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Cornell University Library 
B1198 .F52 

Francis Bacon of Verulam. Realistic phil 


3 1924 029 010 219 

Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 92402901 021 9 



London : 
Printed by Spottiswoode & Co. 
New-street Sqiiare. 







* Veritas Temporifl filia." 

Nov. Oeg. I. M. 




A. M- 5" G 2- 




My chief object in translating Dr. Fischer's 
excellent work on Bacon and the realistic phi- 
losophy-j was to lay Before English readers a brief 
but complete digest of two books, which, all- 
important as they are in the history of sciencCj 
are most assuredly commended much oftener than 
they are read. Whatever veneration may be paid 
in England to the treatise " De Augmentis Sci- 
entiarum" and to the "Novum Organum," few 
indeed are the students who would elaborate for 
themselves so perfect a summary of the doctrines 
contained in those celebrated productions as is 
presented by Dr. Fischer within the space of a 
few brief chapters. Whether his estimate of the 
English philosopher merits approval or not, 
the value of the descriptive part of his book 

A 3 

vi tkanslator's preface. 

remains indubitable. To heighten this value^ and 
to bring Bacon more immediately before the 
reader than he is in the original German, I have 
given extracts in the margin, where Dr. Fischer 
has only given references; and wherever it has 
been possible, I have introduced the Baconian 
words into the text. 

In performing the work of translation, I have 
endeavoured, as much as possible, to make my 
version readable. Dr. Fischer does not, it is true, 
indulge in those technicalities which have been 
introduced into the German language by the suc- 
cessors of Kant ; indeed, with the exception of a 
few Kantisms, generally explained by the context, 
his book is free from technicalities altogether. 
Nevertheless, the German language, indepen- 
dently of the influence of philosophical schools, 
contains expressions which cannot be verbally 
rendered without producing a result totally unin- 
telligible to any one but a German scholar. I 
have, therefore, endeavoured to render sentence 
for sentence rather than word for word, certain 
that I should thus render a greater service to the 

translator's preface. vii 

generality of readers than by encumbering tlie text 
with a number of strange compounds, utterly at 
variance with the genius of the English language. 
Some readers, perhaps, will think I might have 
gone farther in this respect, and adopted more 
familiar expressions than (for instance) " realistic" 
and "naturalistic." To these I reply, that the 
abolition of all apparently pedantic expressions 
would produce ambiguity. To ordinary ears, 
" real philosophy " would sound as the antithesis 
to sham philosophy, rather than to any form of 

Where Dr. Fischer's marginal references have 
obviously been made for a German public only, I 
have taken the liberty to omit them, and in some 
cases, where I thought further elucidation neces- 
sary, I have added a note, signed with my own 
initials. With the same view, I have inserted two 

J. O. 

London : September, 1857. 

\ 4 


The theatre of modem philosophy is a field of 
battle, whereia two opposite and hostile ten- 
dencies — Realism and Idealism — contend with 
each other in asserting claims to truth. These 
tendencies are not merely systems, but kinds of 
philosophy that in no age but a modern one 
could become so conscious of their mutual differ- 
ence, or so definitely and clearly express it. If 
we were to compare scientific with dramatic op- 
position, the reahsts and idealists would be the 
two adverse choruses in the drama of modern 
philosophy. The opposite parties will not be 
silent unto their union is effected, until the modes 
of thought, now strained against each other, be- 
come so interpenetrated, that both are saturated 
alike. For each lives only in the weaknesses and 
defects of its adversary. The boundaries between 
them win be passed when they are clearly under- 
stood ; that is to say, when each party recognises 
the strength of its adversary, and appropriates it to 


itself. Many attempts to produce this result have 
been made during the first period of our philo- 
sophy. If we accurately consider the matter, we 
shall find that realism and idealism, from the 
time of their modern origin, have described not 
parallel but convergent paths, which, at the 
same time, have met at one common point. This 
point at which the idealistic and realistic ten- 
dencies crossed, as at a common vertex, was the 
Kantian philosophy, which has taken account of 
them both and united them in their elements. In 
this, as indeed in every respect, it has set up a 
standard, which must serve as a polar star to all 
subsequent philosophy. If, at the present day, 
we are asked, how we shall follow the right track 
in philosophy, we must answer, by a most ac- 
curate study of Kant. Since his time there 
has not been a philosopher of importance, who 
has not desired to be at once a realist and an 
idealist. If the name had been suf&cient, the 
great and all-pervading problem that occupies the 
mind of modern philosophy would have already 
been solved more than once. All these self- 
called ideal-realistic, or real-idealistic, attempts do 
not, indeed, prove that they have solved the 
problem, but they prove that it is recognised and 
admitted. It is sufficient for us to establish the 
fact that the problem exists, and, without opposi- 
tion worthy of note, is everywhere regarded as all- 


important.* Nevertheless the contest continues, 
and the idealistic systems of the Gerraans, however 
realistic they wotdd appear, have always found 
realism arrayed against them. The two tenden- 
cies are again divergent, and the divergency is 
not to be got rid of by any new name or formula. 
German idealism would have been much bene- 
fited if it had made itself thoroughly acquainted 
with its adversary, and learned to appropriate the 
strength of that adversary to itself, in order to 
shun the more securely the accompanying defects. 
Our German idealists have no right to treat the 
English empirical philosophers with so much su- 
perciUousness ; and with a few words to consign 
them to the contempt of their disciples, as mere 
" unspeculative " intellects, more especially as 
Leibnitz by no means thought it beneath him to 
honour Locke with a close examination, but by his 
"Nouveaux Essais sur I'Entendement Humain," 
did greater service to German philosophy than all 
the philosophical writings that appeared among us 
prior to Kant's " Critique of Pure Reason." His 
example has not been followed. If German 
philosophy is looked upon in England and France 
as German dreaming, we ought not to repay one 
wrong with another, but are bound to deprive the 

* " Giiltig," literally " valid ;" but the word would hardly be 
forcible enough in this place. — J. 0. 

xii author's preface. 

reproach of its force, by showing that, without 
dreaming and without prejudice, we recognise 
foreign philosophers, and appreciate them to the 
extent of their deserts, especially as in matters of 
science every act of injustice betokens ignorance. 
Francis Bacon is still regarded by his country- 
men as the greatest philosopher of England ; and 
in this opinion they are perfectly right. He is 
the founder of that philosophy which is called the 
realistic, which exercised so powerful an influence 
upon even Leibnitz and Kant, to which Kant 
especially was indebted for the last impulses to 
his epoch-making works, and to which France 
paid homage in the eighteenth century. Now 
this very philosopher, of the first rank among 
the realists, is not only still without that acknow- 
ledgment in Grermany, which is his due, but he 
has never even been treated of by any German 
in a thorough and satisfactory manner. In our 
histories and compendia of modern philosophy. 
Bacon plays either no part at all, or at best but a 
very insignificant and subordinate part, as one 
among others who made his appearance during 
the strange transition from mediseval to modern 
philosophy. Some rank him with the natural 
philosophers of Italy, with whom Bacon, if we 
regard the principal point, has scarcely more in 
common than the expression "natural philoso- 
pher;" and from whom he is distinguished not 


only by his mode of thought, which is entirely 
different, but also by his relation to antiquity, 
which in this case offers a fitting standard. Others 
express his relation to modem philosophy by 
placing him by the side of the German mystic, 
Jacob Bohme, with whom he has nothing in 
common but the first letter of his name. In a 
word, most of the opinions respecting Bacon, 
which are uttered among the Germans, especially 
those most promiuent, are as superficial as they 
are unsatisfactory and incorrect. If this had not 
been the case I should have had some reasons the 
less for writing this book, in which I endeavour 
to do justice to the importance of Bacon. 

It may be objected that the poiuts of contact 
between the German and English philosophy — 
between Idealism and Realism — are less to be 
found in Bacon himself, than in some of his suc- 
cessors ; that it was not Bacon, but Hume, who 
influenced Kant, not Bacon, but Locke, who in- 
fluenced Leibnitz ; that Spinoza, if he was affected 
by the English at all, was influenced not by 
Bacon but by Hobbes; and (as is well known) 
invariably spoke of Bacon ia terms of contempt. 
To this I shall answer that it was Bacon who 
was opposed by Descartes, the acknowledged 
founder of dogmatical idealism. As for those 
realists, who have come into contact with the op- 
posite philosophy, as represented by Spinoza, 

XIV author's pee;pace. 

Leibnitz, and Kant, this work is intended to 
prove that the Hobbes, Lockes and Humes, are all 
descendants from Bacon ; that in him they all took 
root, and that without him they cannot be truly 
explained and accounted for, but merely be un- 
derstood in a fragmentary and cursory manner. 
Bacon is the creator of the realistic philosophy, 
the period of which is throughout a development 
of Baconian genius, so that every one of its forma- 
tions is a metamorphosis of the Baconian philo- 
sophy. To this day realism has had on its side 
no greater mind than its founder Bacon ; no one 
who has represented the true realistic mind, ex- 
ulting in aU its fulness of life, so broadly and at 
the same time so characteristically; so circum- 
spectly, and at the same time under such an 
ideal aspect, and so high in its aspirations ; no 
one in whom the limits of this mind are so 
definitely and naturally exhibited. Bacon's phi- 
losophy is the liveliest expression of realism, and 
at the same time wholly free from affectation. 
After the systems of a Spinoza and a Leibnitz 
had long influenced me, filled my thoughts, and, as 
it were, absorbed me into themselves, the occupa- 
tion with the works of Bacon seemed to me like 
a new life, the fruits of which I collected in this 
volume. If I resign myself to the impression 
which is made by the Baconian philosophy as a 
whole, and which ever enlists the imagination on 

author's preface. XV 

its side, I feel that there is something in it that 
in a most peculiar, and at the same time 
natural manner, distinguishes it from other works 
of European philosophy. In its orderly and vi- 
gorous falness of life, that excludes all artificial 
regularity, this philosophy, like an English park, 
is totally free from all formal trimming ; or, to ex- 
press myself more cogently, it has, like the mighty 
island that gives it birth, nothing inland about 
it. I can easily understand that Bacon is re- 
garded as the national English philosopher par 

Bacon stands in the same relation to Realism 
as that in which Descartes stands to dogmatic 
Idealism, Leibnitz to German " enlightenment," 
Kant to modem philosophy. He opens the path 
which others pursue, by following his traces. Hence 
I have treated him as much in detail, the others as 
concisely as possible, having adopted a similar plan 
in another work with respect to Leibnitz and the 
German philosophers of the eighteenth century. 
The scientific importance which I attach to Bacon, 
and the limits set by the plan of my work, may 
justify this mode of treatment. My purpose was to 
exhibit the Baconian philosophy, and from this basis 
to deduce the theories of the philosophers who suc- 
ceeded him. If the English philosophy is depen- 
dent on Bacon, and the French philosophy of the 
eighteenth century dependent upon that, I could 


do no more with respect to the latter, than desig- 
nate the philosophical position which it occupies, 
especially as it is my design in another mono- 
graphy to review more closely the group of these 
Prench philosophers. 

While this book constitutes an independent 
work in itself, distinct from my general work on 
the history of modern philosophy, I will own that 
it is so far related to it that the subject treated 
there is not treated here. This is in accordance 
with the object of the book; for Bacon and his 
successors, although they form a necessary supple- 
ment to modern phiLosophy, and are not without 
influence on the idealistic branch of it, neverthe- 
less, have a separate and independent direction of 
their own, which does not decline towards the op- 
posite side. For the fact that both tendencies 
meet in Kant, is a result of the power of attraction 
that was exercised upon Kant by realism. 

The relation of Bacon to antiquity, and that of 
his philosophy to Kant, were the first points of 
my subject to which I directed my glance, and 
which I made clear to myself. In the explana- 
tion of these points consisted my first attempts at 
the present work. This proved of practical im- 
portance to myself, as it was in a public lecture 
on the relation of Bacon to the ancients, that for 
the first time, after a lapse of seven years, I once 


more discoursed from an academical cliair. The 
philosophical faculty of Berlin, to whom I am in- 
debted for that memorable honour, will allow me, 
in remembrance of it, to dedicate to them this 
book with silent gratitude. 

KuNO Fischer. 

Heidelberg: 27th January, 1856. 




Bacon of Vernlam as a Moral and Scientific Character . 1 

CHAP. n. 

Invention as the Problem of the Baconian Philosophy . 38 
I. The Baconian Point of View. — Discovery and 

Invention . . . . .44 

n. The Dominion of Man (Regntmi Hominis) . 54 
III. The Interpretation of Nature (Interpretatio Na- 
turae) ...... 56 

CHAP. ni. 

Experience as the Means of Invention . .62 

L The Idols . . . . .67 

n. The Baconian Scepticism. — Bacon and Descartes 71 

m. The Experimentalising Perception . .77 

1. Conviction opposed to Authority . .78 

2. Heal opposed to Verbal Knowledge . 79 

3. NaturalAnalogyopposedtoHumanAnalogy 81 

4. Experiment opposed to the Delusion of the 

s Senses. — Sense and Instrtmient . .87 

5. Efficient opposed to Final Causes . . 89 




True Induction as the Method of Experience • ^^ 

I. The Comparison of several Instances . .97 

11 The Import of Negative Instances. — Critical 

Experience . . . . .101 

III. Induction and Deduction in the Baconian 

Science '. - ■ • .112 


Prerogative Instances as Aids to Induction. — Natural 

Analogies as Prerogative Instances . . .116 

I. The Defects of the Baconian Method . .119 

II. The Prerogative Instances . . .121 

III. Natural Analogies . . . .125 


The Philosophy of Bacon in its Relation to the Philosophy 

preceding it . . . . , .140 

^ I. The Practical End. — Dogmatism and Scepticism 143 

II. The Physical Foundation 

III. The Antiformal Tendency 

1. Bacon's Antagonism to Aristotle . 



Syllogism and Experience 

2. Bacon's Opposition and Affinity to Plato. 

His Opinion of Plato and Aristotle 
The Platonic Idealism . 
The Platonic Method . 

3. The Affinity of Bacon to Democritus and 

the Atomists . . _ jy. 






The Baconian Philosophy in its Belation to Poetty 

I. The Baconian Poetics .... 
II. The Baconian Interpretation of the Ancient 

Myths.— The Fable of Eros . 
m. Greek and Boman Antiquity. — Bacon and 
Shaispeare . . . . . 





CHAP, vm. 

The Baconian Philosophy as the " Instauratio Magna ' 
Science. — Organon and Encyclopaedia . 




The Baconian Philosophy as an Encyclopaedia 



Sciences ..... 



History .... 



Science .... 



I. Fundamental Philosophy. — Philosophia 

Prima . 


IL Natural Theology 


m. Natural Philosophy 


1. Theoretical Natural Philosophy 


Physics . 




2. Practical Natural Philosophy 


3. Mathematics 


rV. Anthropology . 


1. Physiology . 


2. Psychology . 


3. Logic 


4. Ethics 


5. Politics 





The Baconian Philosophy in its Kelation to Religion . 290 
I. The Separation between Reason and the Faith 

in Rerelation.— Bacon and Tertullian . 293 
n. Bacon's Position with regard to Religion. — 

Contradiction and Solution . . . 298 

. 302 

. 307 

. 311 

. 316 

Jl. The Theoretical View 
■^2. The Practical View 

3. The Political View . 

4. The Negative View 

5. Bacon's own Rehgious Sentiments . . 320 
m. Diversity of Opinion respecting the Religious 

Views of Bacon. — Bacon and De Maistre . 324 


The Baconian Principle of Faith in its Development . 341 

I. Bacon and Bayle .... 347 

II. The Anglo-Gallic "Enlightenment" . . 357 

in. The German "Enlightenment". . . 364 


The Baconian Philosophy considered in its Relation to 

History and the Present .... 372 

I. Bacon's TJnhistorical Mode of Thought . . 374 

U. Bacon and Macaulay .... 332 


CHAP. xrn. 


The Progress of the Baconian Philosophy . . . 406 

Empiria and Empirism .... 408 

Empirism . . . . . .411 

The Degrees of Development in Empirism . .414 

I. The Atomism of Hobbes . . .416 

1. The State as an absolute Power . .418 

2. Morality and Religion as a Product of the 

State . . . . .420 

3. The State as a Product of Nature . . 425 
II. The Sensualism of Locke . . . 435 

1. The Mind as a Tabula Rasa . . 437 

2. The Origin of Knowledge . . . 440 

3. Knowledge as a Product of Perception. — 

Sensation and Reflection . . . 442 

m. The French "Enlightenment" . . .451 

rv. The so-called Idealism of Berkeley . .454 

1. Things as Perceptions . . .456 

2. Perceptions as Things . . . 460 

3. The Deity is the Originator of our Per- 

ceptions ..... 463 

V. The Scepticism of Hume . . . 468 

1. The Objects of Knowledge . . . 469 

2. Mathematics and Experience . . 470 

3. Experience as a Product of Causality . 473 

4. Causality as a Product of Experience. — 

Custom and Faith . . . 476 

5. Custom as a Political Point of View . 483 
"VX Hume's Contradiction, and Kant's Solution . 494 

VH Bacon and Kant . . . . .497 


Appendix A. (Referred to at p. 87) . , . 503 

Appendix B. (Referred to at p, 125) . . . 505 





The great intellectual achievements of a man are 
never so utterly distinct and separable from his 
life that he can be one person in his worldly- 
career, and entirely another in the emanations 
of his mind. There is always a certain corre- 
spondence between the moral and the scientific 
character, and a mistake has been made when the 
character of Bacon has been excepted from the 
law of such an analogy. On the other hand, 
this law would be very wrongly applied if we 
attributed certain moral blemishes and delin- 
quencies aifecting the life of Bacon to his scientific 



tendency, or from this tendency explained his 
moral course. Such a relation would be more 
than analogy, it would be a relation of cause 
and effect. Of such an immediate influence of 
the scientific upon the moral character, we can 
only speak with great caution, inasmuch as the 
moral character precedes the scientific in order 
of time, and human characters generally do not 
form themselves before the mirror of science. 
Nevertheless, there is between the two modes of 
expressing the mental individuality a natural 
homogeneity, which does not consist in the one 
following the other, but proceeds from this : that 
the genius of the man directs both to the same ends; 
for the genius of a great individual remains the 
same in all its utterances. Leibnitz, with his per- 
sonal character, could never have become a phi- 
losopher like Spinoza, nor Bacon like Descartes. 
The scientific direction pursued by Bacon fully 
corresponded to the peculiarity of his nature, to 
his wants and inclinations ; and this direction was 
greatly favoured by his moral disposition. Indeed, 
without such a cooperation of the mental powers, 
no great intellectual achievement is possible. 

It is wrong to blame or pity Bacon because, 
being a scientific character of the first rank, he 
was at the same time too ambitious to prefer the 
repose of a scientific life to the charms of high 


and influential office. Bacon himself, in his old 
age, has lamented this as a misfortune, but not as 
a weakness. The misfortune was his destiny, and 
likewise the destiny of his science. Not only he, 
but his science also, was too ambitious, too 
practical*, too much open to the world, to bury 
itself in seclusion. To advance the power of man 
is, on one occasion, called by Bacon himself the 
highest degree of ambition, f And this ambition 
belonged to his science ; this effort was its first 
and last thought ; on account of this very ambition 
Bacon became a scientific character. His science 
was of a kind that could not endure a life 
of quiet retirement ; it would rather float along 
the stream of the world than remain in a state 
of tranquil and secluded contemplation. "A 
talent is cultivated in seclusion, — a character 
in the stream of the world." | To adopt these 
words of Gothe, the home of Baconian science 
was the school, not of talent, but of character, — 
that is to say, it was worldly life on a grand 
scale. To this his philosophy and all his efforts 
were inclined. He decided early in life that a 

* " Thatenlustig," literally " delighting in action."— J. O. 
•f Compare Not. Org. i 129. ; also vide Chap. UL of this 

J " Es bildet ein Talent sich in der Stille, 

Sich ein Character in dem Strom der Welt." 

B 2 


science secluded from the world must be narrow 
and sterile, and that the wretched plight from 
which he wished to rescue philosophy was partly 
to be explained by the life of retirement usually 
adopted by learned men. He judged that the 
knowledge of these persons was as narrow as their 
cells, as the convents and cloisters in which they 
were secluded, in ignorance of the world, nature, 
and their own times. So diametrically — both from 
inclination and on principle — was the scientific 
mind of Bacon opposed to the condition of learn- 
incr that had continued down to his own time, that 
he necessarily felt an impulse to alter even its 
outward form of existence, and to exchange the 
life of the cloister for the life of the world. The 
student of the cell was transformed into a man of 
the world, who, both in science and in practical 
life, aimed at the same lofty goal of influential 
power. Doubtless his practical career demanded 
a heavy expenditure of time and labour ; and thus 
there was so much less to bestow on scientific 
labour. But are we, on that account, to wish 
that Bacon had devoted his whole life, or the 
greater portion of it, to secluded science ? This 
would be neither more nor less than wishing that 
Bacon had been endowed with another sort of 
scientific mind ; that he had been another philo- 
sopher than he actually was; — this would be over- 


looking the peculiar character of Baconian science. 
If we take this peculiar character Into consi- 
deration, we find there is no contradiction Implied 
in the fact that Bacon at the same time directed 
his energies both to science and to the acquisition 
of office. Even in the name of his science he 
could require the scholar to learn practical life 
from his own experience, — not merely theo- 
retically, as by a bird's-eye view, but by actual 
participation. This, indeed, was what Bacon 
desired. In a scientific spirit he reproached the 
learned for their ordinary deficiency in a virtue of 
the understanding that could only be acquired in 
practical life, — namely, a knowledge of business 
and political prudence.* 

However, the manner in which Bacon displayed 
himself as a political character, — his own especial 
acts in this capacity seem diametrically opposed 
to his scientific greatness. This opposition has 
often been pointed out and lamented. Bacon has 
even been set up as an example to show how 
widely distinct from each other are the scientific 

* De Dign. et Augm. Scientianun, lib. viii. cap. 2. (near the 
beginning).—" Doctrinam de Negotiis pro rei momcnto tractavit 
adhuc nemo, cum magna tam litterarum quam litteratorum ex- 
istimationis jactura. Ab hac enim radice pullulet illud malum, 
quod notam eraditis inussit ; nimirum, eruditionem et pru- 
dentiam cirilem raro admodum conjungi." 
B 3 


and moral tendencies of a man — to how high 
a degree of internal contradiction the variance 
between these two characters can be brought. 
Mr. Macaulay, especially, has of late pushed this 
contradiction to such an extreme point that it 
seems insoluble, and the character of Bacon 
appears inexplicable. Macaulay pleads against 
Montagu on the subject of Bacon's moral worth ; 
and it is well so to compare the two biographers 
(of whom the second is the panegyrist), that one 
may serve as a corrective to the other. For our 
own part, we shall neither defend nor attack 
Bacon's character, but simply explain it, and 
hence we look here for that intrinsic harmony 
which belongs to every important character. 
Taking everything into consideration, we must 
confess that the contradiction between Bacon the 
philosopher and Bacon the political character does 
not appear to us so violent as it is represented by 
Macaulay. Neither was the one (to use the 
expression of Macaulay, who infelicitously cites a 
Baconian figure of speech), — neither was the one 
a " soaring angel," nor the other a " creeping 
snake." Neither on the one side is there pure 
light, nor on the other is there mere shade, but 
on both sides is a compound of both. Of all the 
images that could be selected, none could be 
more unhappy than one which suggests a com- 


parison between Bacon's philosophy and a winged 
angel. On the contrary, it was Bacon's express 
and repeatedly avowed intention to make philo- 
sophy leave ofFher habit of flying; to pluck ofFher 
wings, and to put leaden weights in their place ; 
to hold her firmly down upon the ground, among 
earthly things, where Bacon himself lived, with 
all his inclinations. Bacon wished to transform 
philosophy, from a roving spirit that looks down- 
wards from above, into a human being, that 
cautiously ascends by the toilsome road of expe- 
rience. When Bacon, as a political character, 
takes the same road, and stumbles so often on this 
steep, rugged, intricate path of life, he does not, 
therefore, become a creeping snake. If every- 
thing that crept was necessarily a snake, it 
would be bad indeed ; and I verily believe that 
whoever, under similar circumstances, pursues the 
same course as Bacon, will often find himself in 
such a strait that he will be compelled to creep. 
I well know the objections that will be made here. 
The blemishes of Bacon's life are not mere human 
errors and weaknesses, but debased sentiments and 
political crimes. This I do not pretend to deny ; 
much less would I defend delinquencies which are 
proved beyond the possibility of doubt. The un- 
worthy sentiments are open to view ; the crimes 
are acknowledged by Bacon himself; they have 

B 4 


sullied his public name, and if they are designated 
in the hardest terms, I offer no objection ; only to 
me these single traits are not all the indices of his 
character. As far as I see, the character would have 
been precisely the same if the unworthy sentiments 
had not been so obviously manifest; if the crimes 
had not been committed. I could well imagine that 
with greater prudence Bacon might have avoided 
either the crimes themselves, or the whole weight 
of responsibility attached to them ; but in that 
case I should not think a whit the better of him, 
or a whit the worse. He would then have been a 
more cunning, but not a better man. Indeed, a 
thorough-paced scoundrel, an accomplished plotter, 
would never have fallen into such open guilt. A 
human character should indeed be judged by its 
actions ; but then the whole of these should be 
taken into the account. We should consider not 
only how a man deports himself in isolated cases, 
under the combined influence of all sorts of circum- 
stances, but how his moral elements are blended 
with each other. That which, in the natural dis- 
position of a character, is a mere weakness, may 
easily, through the force of circumstances, give 
rise to a bad action, or even a crime. By this the 
mode of action is certainly not improved, but 
neither -does the element of the character become 
worse. When bad actions are equally base in their 


outward appearance, the psychological connoisseur 
of the human may still detect an important dif- 
ference in the fundamental character of the de- 
linquents. If we pay no regard to the mixture 
of moral elements, we form a one-sided, abstract, 
and therefore incorrect judgment on the subject 
of character. 

Let the experiment be made with Bacon. 
Had he not been entangled in the affairs of Essex 
and Buckingham, we should have known none of 
those traits, on the strength of which Macaulay 
opposes the baseness of his moral personality 
to his scientific greatness, and Macaulay would 
have passed a more favourable judgment. But 
he would not have been right in so doing; for 
Bacon's moral nature would still have been 
the same. We do not say this to excuse or 
defend, but simply to explain his character, 
which remains inexplicable if the apparent con- 
tradiction be admitted. What attached Bacon 
to Essex and Buckingham ? — not friendship, not 
sympathy, but motives of self-interest. They 
were men of the most powerful influence; the 
former was the favourite of Elizabeth, the latter 
of James I. To rise in the oflBces of the state, 
Bacon desired and sought court favour ; and this 
could not be obtained and preserved without 
such mediators. If he would become a man of 


consequence, and accelerate his career, the favour 
of others was unfortunately a more effective 
expedient than his own intrinsic talent. JSlow, 
ought Bacon to have avoided a practical career 
altogether? He was forced to pursue it by his 
inclinations, by his temperament, by the force of 
circumstances. At first he had to contend with 
the greatest obstacles; even his nearest rela- 
tives, the powerful Burleighs, threw impedi- 
ments in his way, and long held him down in 
a dependent position. If Bacon would not 
give up his practical aims, and vanish into a 
life of seclusion, repugnant to his nature, he 
must seek for assistance, — totally distinct from 
his own talents, — in the influence, protection, 
and patronage of others, and these he could 
not secure without courtly pliability, — without 
becoming a serviceable tool in the hands of the 

Here Bacon entered upon that hazardous and 
slippery path, which, though it brought him to 
the highest posts of honour, led him also into a 
multitude of perplexities and embarrassments, 
and at last caused his precipitate fall from the 
summit of prosperity to the depth of destruction. 
It was a hard and steep road that Bacon had 
to travel, as he rose from the poor barrister to the 
Keeper of the Seals and Lord Chancellor of 


England ; from the unwearied suppliant to Baron 
Verulam and Viscount St. Alban. Nor did he 
find any difficulty in accommodating himself to 
the windings of the path, and in sacrificing ao 
much of his moral independence as circumstances 
required. Nature had not formed him of stub- 
bom material. He was easy and pliant to the 
highest degree, — made on purpose to guide himself 
by the course of circumstances, of which he took 
a very clear view. The temporibus servire cor- 
responded to his natural temperament, and to 
the tone of his philosophy, of which the fun- 
damental principle was to follow the times by a 
mode of thought really conformable to the 
times. Altogether, Bacon did not regard life 
with the conviction that it was a problem of 
eternal import, to be solved according to a moral 
rule, but rather as a game that could only be 
won by quickly-devised and judicious tactics. 
There are characters who affect to be easy, 
pliable, and subservient to the will of others, 
that they have the greater chance of becoming 
the reverse of all this ; who apparently allow 
themselves to be governed, that their own rule 
may be rendered the more secure, and like the 
cunning pope seek the keys of power with stoop- 
ing heads. Among these hypocritical and really 
arbitrary characters Bacon is not to be enume- 


rated. His ambition was of a yielding kind, and 
his natural honesty came often into collision with 
his political shrewdness. To-day, in conformity 
with his own convictions, he delivered a patriotic 
speech in Parliament against the subsidies*, and 
having thus oiFended the queen he did all he 
could to appease her wrath. He repented that 
he had made the speech ; and we may be fully 
convinced that he felt unfeigned sorrow on 
account of an impolitic act that was so much in 
the way of his plans. On another occasion he 
toiled to save the man who had been his 
benefactor; but when he saw that the queen's 
good graces were at stake, he allowed his friend 
to fall, having only sought his favour because he 
had been the favourite of the queen. He always 
stooped as soon as he saw that he might knock 
his head by keeping it upright. This spectacle 
of so great a mind in such a wavering and 
undignified condition is far from edifying ; but 
even here we may find a trait that accompanies 
Bacon's character through all his wanderinCTs, 
that belongs to his peculiarities, and has its 
foundation in his inmost nature ; — I mean an 
extraordinary facility in helping himself, under 

* The speech referred to was made by Bacon in 1593 fisgo ? 
J. O.), as representative of Middlesex. — Author's note. 


any circumstances, in passing over the difficulties 
of a route, and hurrying on as if nothing of any 
moment had occurred, as if no mark of evil were 
left in his track. In him every unpleasant sensa- 
tion was easily smoothed down, every loss, even 
moral loss, — nay, even that last of losses, the loss 
of a good name, was easily compensated. His 
life and his writings make upon us the same 
impression, that this man could find nothing 
difficult either to endure or to execute. In such 
a mind, even this facility is a species of strength, 
a proof of indestructible energy and vital power ; 
a natural elasticity, which indeed appears like a 
weakness, whenever it encounters opposition. 
David Hume was right when he missed in 
Bacon that firmness of character which we 
call the moral power of resistance. We know 
of no philosopher more elastic than Bacon. He 
possessed to the highest degree the power and 
the impulse to expand himself beyond all bounds, 
but the power of resistance he lacked ; he yielded 
to a pressure, and allowed himself to be driven 
into a corner by the overwhelming force of 
circumstances. He could augment and diminish, 
with the same natural facility, without being 
affected, either in his higher or his lower posi- 
tion, by an excessive sensibility, which in the 
one case would have stimulated his pride, in the 


Other would have too painfully depressed him. 
Hence it was that the man, who excelled all 
others in intellectual power, and imprinted a 
new form of mind upon his age, at the same time 
presented a soft material capable of receiving 
the impression from any hand that happened to 
be powerful. This elastic power constitutes, as 
it were, the type of his individuality, in which 
all his politics, his virtues as well as his foibles, 
harmonise with each other. Here we can 
perceive that his character is consistent with 
itself. From this point we explain the peculiar 
turns of his life, his vicissitudes, even his 
extremest aberrations. 

It is perfectly evident to us that such an intellec- 
tual power, fitted as it was to strive towards a great 
end, and at the same time to penetrate into minutice, 
could not fail to produce extraordinary results in 
the region of science ; that it was especially made 
to awaken a new life in this region, and that, 
above all, it corresponded to Bacon's own scientific 
tendency, namely, the progression from parti- 
culars to general laws. If we imagine the same 
power placed in the midst of social intercourse, 
we find that this rich, versatile mind, affable to 
every person, accessible to every form of life, con- 
tains within itself all the talents that constitute the 
agreeable companion. Bacon possessed by nature 


all those qualities which have a right to shine in 
society; he united the weighty with the light, 
not by deliberate art, but by dint of natural 
grace. His command over words was perfect, 
both in public orations and in private converse. 
According to the testimony of Ben Jonson, Bacon 
was an orator whom one never grew weary of 
hearing. But this very power, which in science 
and in social life finds so brilliant and lofty an 
expression, acquires quite another aspect when 
its acts are of a moral kind ; the moral element is 
for such a form of individuality the most uncon- 
genial and the most dangerous. There is no elastic 
morality ; and Bacon's moral nature was as elastic, 
as facile, as completely directed towards practical 
ends, and as compliant with circumstances, as his 
intellect. It quite accorded with the key-note of 
his individuality. Here is the perceptible har- 
mony of his character, which has often escaped 
notice, or (as in the case of Mr. Macaulay) has 
been missed altogether. We see in Bacon's moral 
character, as compared with his intellect, not a 
distinct being, but only the shadow of his indi- 
viduality, which grew larger as its substance 
increased in power and importance. Elastic 
morality is lax. Moral virtue demands, above 
everything, a firm, tough, obstinate power of 
resistance, for it consists in a victorious struggle 


with the allurements and temptations of life. If this 
power of resistance has its fulcrum in the natural 
disposition of the individual, it is a talent. Now 
this moral talent was wanting in Bacon's nature ; 
and the virtue that corresponds to it was therefore 
wanting in his life. All the moral blemishes 
that disfigure his life have their real foundation in 
this absence of virtue ; in this natural want of 
resisting power; in that mental facility which 
gave such extraordinary animation to his scientific, 
and so grievously crippled his moral energies. 
Bacon's life has always appeared to me the strongest 
proof of the correctness of Leibnitz's definition, 
according to which evil is the absence of good, 
and vice therefore is a moral weakness. Bacon 
was not vicious by nature. His moral disposition 
was the reverse of diabolical. It was in the 
highest degree facile, and therefore frail ; through 
all the windings of his life it became no worse 
than it was by nature ; — it was easily corrupt- 
ible. Indeed, when we see the general cor- 
ruption by which such a character was surrounded, 
we can scarcely wonder that it fell into sad 
perplexities and aberrations. There was no 
melancholy element in his disposition to render 
him more sensitive to the pressure of life • 
he could bear his lot easily ; and even from 
that terrible blow that gave a mortal wound 


to his honour, he recovered with astounding 
rapidity, and thenceforward, in voluntary seclu- 
sion, devoted all his powers to science. His 
feelings corresponded to his temperament. He 
had none of those violent and deep emotions that 
excite the soul, and carry it forcibly along; 
never did love or hatred wholly overpower him ; 
his love was a cool inclination, his hatred a cool 
dislike. No mark of friendship or devotion could 
move him to give his whole heart ; and, on the 
other hand, he was just as little roused by 
enmity. It was easy for him to abandon and 
even to persecute a fallen friend, for the sake 
of gaining the royal favour, or to contract a 
marriage, which offered no charm but wealth. 
Violent passions were as alien from his heart 
as the fallacies, which he termed " idols," were 
alien from his intellect. His was not a cold, 
but a cool nature, whose likes and dislikes kept 
themselves within the limits of equanimity. 
Thus, without love or devotion, he could be 
benevolent, affable, and forgiving; and, without 
hatred or malice, he could act as an enemy. To 
do him justice, we must say, regarding him from 
both sides, that his friendship was indeed 
without fidelity, but that, on the other hand, his 
enmity was without bitterness ; that he took up 
and wielded both with equal facility; and that 


the very characteristic of his mind which ap- 
peared like infidelity and ingratitude where a 
friend was concerned, looked like magnanimity 
and clemency where an enemy was the party m 
question. He could be ungrateful to his bene- 
factors, but he could not be vindictive to his foes. 
He had none of those passions that belong to the 
genus of love, but he was equally free from the 
opposite emotions of hatred. Instances might be 
cited where Bacon acted without feeling, but it 
cannot be proved that he was ever prompted by 
envy. He could as easily close his heart to the 
ingratitude, as he could open it to acknowledge 
the merit of others. So right was Spinoza, 
when he called envy the converse of sympathy. 
If there were a thermometer to measure the 
intrinsic force of human passions, we should find, 
in the case of Bacon, that the degree of warmth 
belonging to his heart stood very close to zero. 
His practical ends were to him of more value 
than the dictates of his own feelings. When 
both were in harmony, we might be certain to 
find in Bacon one of the most amiable of men ; 
but tlie least collision would at once destroy the 
equilibrium of his natural benevolence. If he 
were compelled to make a choice between the 
practical objects of his life and the promptino-s 
of his heart,— between his interest and his friend. 


— we may be perfectly sure that Bacon would 
always have given the preference to the former. 
He attempted, indeed, to eifect a reconciliation 
between them, and would have been much 
pleased if his experiment had succeeded; but 
as soon as it had failed, and Bacon saw the 
impossibility of success, he made up his mind to 
sacrifice his friend, and this sacrifice was made 
with small compunction. 

We thus have a thorough explanation of the 
saddest episode of Bacon's life, — of the part which 
he played as counsel for the Crown against the 
Earl of Essex. Here was the hardest collision 
into which his interests could be brought. It 
was a collision not between duty and inclination, 
but between selfishness and friendship. Essex 
had loved him with passionate aSection, and had 
loaded him with a multitude of favours, which he 
had repaid with as much devotion as was com- 
patible with his passionless temperament. What 
he loved in Essex was not so much the friend as 
the powerful favourite, who was of service to him. 
The favourite fell, and Bacon's friendship was 
put to a test that it could not stand. It failed in 
a manner that unhappily was as much in accord- 
ance with Bacon's character as it is repulsive to 
our feelings, notwithstanding its consistency with 
our explanation of his moral disposition. He 
c 2 


really made every effort to save Essex without 
danger to himself. The attempt failed ; the pas- 
sionate and unlawful acts which the reckless 
Essex allowed himself to commit made this abso- 
lutely impossible. Bacon was forced to make a 
choice between him and the queen. He made 
such a choice as was consonant to his nature. 
It was the queen's will that he should himself 
support the prosecution and publicly defend the 
execution of Essex after it had taken place. He 
did support the prosecution, he did write the 
defence; in both cases plainly showing that he 
did not act in accordance with his feelings, but 
had still only one motive, that of pleasing the 
queen. When she desired him to defend, by a 
written statement, the execution that had taken 
place, Bacon expressed his gratification that Her 
Majesty had " taken a liking of his pen." "When 
under the government of James I. the friends of 
Essex regained their influence. Bacon did every- 
thing to obliterate the memory of this proceeding. 
He heartily congratulated the Earl of South- 
ampton on his liberation from the confinement to 
which friendship for Essex and participation in 
his fortunes had brought him ; and the written 
.avowal of Bacon on this occasion was very cha- 
racteristic and very true. He assured the Earl 
that the change of the throne had wrought in 


him no other change than this, "that he could 
be safely that to him now which he had truly 
been before." In these few lines Bacon has de- 
picted himself with the most naive candour. 

We see how much this moral character was 
subject to external influences, how fitted it was 
to conform itself to every change of circum- 
stance. This moral pliability is not far removed 
from venality, which, indeed, it becomes as soon 
as motives are derived not from the conscience, 
but from the force of external relations. Devoid 
of rigid conscientiousness, and also devoid of 
those strong passions which rule the mind after a 
fashion of their own, such characters constantly 
succumb to the corrupting influences from with- 
out. On these alone does it depend what form 
the venality will take, and to what a degree 
it will mount. And the circumstances amid 
which Bacon lived as a powerful and likewise 
complaisant tool caused his natural venality to 
take the grossest form of bribery, and to be 
heightened to actual crime. There was nothing 
in his moral disposition that he could oppose to 
such pernicious agencies. He subjected himself 
and his high position as Lord Keeper of the 
Great Seal of England to the power and in- 
fluence of a courtier. Because Buckingham 
exercised the strongest influence over the king, 
c 3 


SO was his Influence irresistible to Bacon. It 
was impossible to renounce the support of the 
influential courtier, and as little could Bacon 
guide the inconsiderate man by his own superior 
views. He therefore yielded to him, and became 
an accomplice in the wrongful acts by which 
Buckingham enriched himself, allowing him to 
grant patents for hard cash and sell monopolies, 
which did manifest injury to the country. What 
was still worse, he tolerated the interference of 
the royal favourite in his own judicial acts, and 
the decisions which he subscribed often emanated 
from Buckingham. Bacon knew well enough that 
corruption of the legal tribunals is one of the 
worst evils that can befal a state ; nevertheless he 
allowed the Crown and its officers to interfere in 
suits, and to secure the favour of the judges for 
itself or its clients; he actually did that which, 
with his own correct views, he never should have 
permitted ; he allowed himself to be bribed, and 
sold his decisions. By these illegal means he is 
said to have gained a rich booty; his enemies 
estimated his spoils at 100,000 pounds. This 
rapacity did not arise from grovelling avarice 
but from a reckless love of magnificence. Bacon, 
as far as his own person was concerned, was 
moderate and abstemious; but he liked to keep 
up a magnificent establishment and make a bril- 


liant figure in society. Luxury oiFered fas- 
cinations which he could not resist ; his rash 
expenditure exceeded his means, and thus he 
loaded himself with a weight of debt which he 
could only lighten by means of unlawful and 
unjustifiable gains. Here Bacon and his fortunes 
ajipear in a truly pitiful light, namely, with the 
stamp of mere vulgar recklessness upon them. 
To a life in which luxury, debt, and dishonesty, 
always logically enough connected, appear in inti- 
mate union, we attach, according to the laws of 
analogy and experience, a character that has 
nothing in common with greatness and independ- 
ence of mind. Nor did the pecuniary difficulties 
of Bacon begin with the lustre of his official posi- 
tion. It appears that he always had a taste for 
immoderate luxury. At any r^te, we know that 
before the episode with Essex, a goldsmith caused 
him to be arrested in the street for debt. 

The fate of Bacon came upon him as the Ne- 
mesis of some hero of antiquity. It allowed him 
to rise to the highest pinnacle of felicity, that it 
might thence strike him down with rapid and ter- 
rific blows. In a few moments the proud edifice 
of his fortune, the edifice which he had carefully 
constructed with the toil of years, lay before him 
a disgraceful ruin. 

Under James I. he had, by the favour of that 

C 4 


monarch, mounted the highest steps of the state 
ladder. Knighted on James's accession to the 
throne. Bacon became, in 1604, King's Counsel 
with a salary, in 1607 Solicitor- General, in 1613 
Attorney-General, in 1616 (through the influence 
of Buckingham) Counsellor of State, in 1617 Lord 
Keeper of the Great Seal, and in 1618 Lord 
High Chancellor of England.* While in London 
he led a brilliant life at York House. His vaca- 
tions he devoted to a Tusculan leisure at Gor- 
hambury, where he occupied himself with literary 
labours and gardening. Here he kept up a 
scientific intercourse with several persons, in- 
cluding Thomas Hobbesj whose vocation it was 
further to carry out the Baconian philosophy, and 
whom Mr. Macaulay terms the most " vigorous 
and acute of human intellects." When on the 
summit of his political career he was further 
elevated, with great ceremony on the part of the 
Court, to the dignities of Baron of Verulam and 
Viscount St. Alban. He held the highest state 
office in England ; and the publication of his 
chef-d'oeuvre, the "Novum Organum," in 1620, 
stamped him as the first philosophical writer of 
Europe. This was the moment when Bacon 

* The above dates are from the note to Dr. Rawley's life, in 
Mr. SpedGing's edition. Dr. Kscher's dates are uot quite the 


stood upon the culminating point of power and 
felicity, and was justly respected and admired by 
the whole world. 

Three days after his investment with the title 

of Viscount St. Alban had taken place with all 

solemnity, a new parliament assembled. The 

public grievances were discussed, — the selfish and 

mischievous grants of monopolies and patents, and 

above all the abuses in the law-courts. The House 

of Commons elected a Committee to investigate 

these abuses. On the 15th of March, 1621, the 

president of the Committee* reported that the 

person against whom the charges were brought 

was no less a person than the Lord Chancellor 

himself, " a man," he added, " so endued with all 

parts of nature and art, as that I will say no more 

of him, being not able to say enough." The 

prosecution was carried on ; the cases of bribery 

became more and more numerous ; the articles of 

the charge were twenty-three in number. A 

copy of them was sent to Bacon that he might 

defend himself; and at last, all evasion being 

impossible, he sent to the House of Lords a 

written answer, which opened thus : — " Upon 

advised consideration of the charge, descending 

into my own conscience, and calling my memory 

• Sir Robert PhilUps.— J. O. 


to account so far as I am able, I do plainly and 
ingenuously confess that I am guilty of cor- 
ruption, and do renounce all defence, and put 
myself upon the grace and mercy of your lord- 
ships." Overwhelmed with shame, the unhappy 
man shut himself up in his room, and when a 
deputation of the lords waited upon him, he be- 
sought them " to be merciful to a broken reed." 
His confession of guilt was dictated not so much 
by contrition as by policy, for the king, who 
could not save him, advised him to declare him- 
self guilty. He was sentenced to imprisonment 
during the king's pleasure, to a fine of 40,000?., 
with the additional punishment that he was to 
" be for ever incapable of any office, place, or 
employment in the state or commonwealth ; and 
never sit in parliament, nor come within the verge 
of the court." * The sentence was more severe 
than the judges, who felt both admiration and 
pity for the offender, and indeed it was only 
carried into execution so far as form required. 
After an imprisonment of no more than two days 
he was liberated by the king, the other penalties 
were also remitted, and he might even have re- 
sumed his seat in the House of Lords in the next 
session of parliament. However, he did not again 

• In the original this addition is briefly expressed by the 
words : " Biirgerlicher Tod." — J. 0. 


make his appearance in public life, but passed the 
remainder of his days in solitary devotion to 
science among the woods of Gorhambury. 

If we now compare Bacon's moral disposition 
with his scientific character, we shall find between 
the two not a puzzling contradiction, but, on the 
contrary, a natural analogy ; only the very pe- 
culiarities that were injurious and perilous with 
respect to his practical life were advantageous to 
his scientific pursuits. As the elements of science 
and life are distinct from each other, the expres- 
sions of the scientific and the moral character 
must be likewise diiFerent, even where they both 
agree in their common source. To certain tempta- 
tions the mind that seeks after truth is never ex- 
posed. Certain rewards are beyond the power of 
science to bestow, and for such rewards the scien- 
tific character cannot think of acting. It is easy to 
understand that an excessively practical intellect, 
a mind that thirsts after power and distinction, 
will become selfish in the aflfairs of worldly life, 
and that such a mind, if endowed largely with 
pliability, scantily with power of resistance, will 
not shun crooked paths in order to attain its end, 
and will at last purchase worldly gain at any 
amount of moral loss. But put such a mind, with 
the intellectual force belonging to it, on the path 
of science ; here also it will exhibit the same 


traits of character that generally determine the 
form of its individuality, but without the dross 
with which it becomes sullied in the impure ele- 
ment of worldly life. The element of science is 
in itself pure. In science there are no such vices 
as selfishness and venality. To transplant a cha- 
racter from the moral into the scientific element, 
we must leave out all that will not admit of this 
operation, — every merely moral phenomenon. 

Such a phenomenon, in the case of Bacon, is 
the selfish and feeble character of his will. How 
could this peculiarity find a scientific expression ? 
What aliment could it derive from science ? Mr. 
Macaulay says correctly enough: — " In his library 
all his rare powers were under the guidance of an 
honest ambition, of an enlarged philanthropy, of a 
sincere love of truth. There no temptation drew 
him away from the right course. Thomas Aquinas 
could pay no fees ; Duns Scotus could confer no 
peerages. The Master of the Sentences had no 
rich reversions in his gift." If we set aside the 
ditference of the elements in which Bacon's sci- 
entific and moral character move, the conformity 
between them strikes us at once. Even science 
itself is embraced by Bacon in a sense that in- 
dubitably expresses his whole moral peculiarity. 
The harmony is obvious. To prove the assertion 
of an original philosopher of our own country, 


that It is the will that produces the understand- 
ing*, I would cite Bacon as an example. His 
science harmonises altogether with the key-note 
of his individuality and his will. He directs it, 
as he directs his life, to practical ends; would 
bring it into a new and fruitful combination with 
worldly life, from which it has hitherto been se- 
parated. All his philosophical plans are designed 
to enrich science; to render it mighty, respected, 
influential, generally useful. It is to be a power 
among men, — a beneficent power, and therefore 
universally reverenced. But science can only 
enrich itself with knowledge ; can only become 
powerful when this knowledge is useful, prac- 
tical, efficacious. Let us, then, imagine the idea 
of Bacon's life transplanted into the region of sci- 
ence : to what could it direct its efforts but to the 
acquisition of a vast store of useful and potent 
knowledge ? How can this treasure be acquired 
but by a dexterous intellect, with an eye to real 
life, and an aptitude for worldly experience ? In- 
stead of the riches which he seeks. Bacon finds in 
the science that exists its very opposite ; the deep- 
est poverty, scanty knowledge, and that empty 
and unserviceable, while, to complete the gene- 
ral wretchedness, there is an infatuated belief 

• Arthur Schopenhauer must be the philosopher here in- 
tended. — J. O. 


that all this is marvellous wealth. If Bacon, 
therefore, is to carry out his own will in science, 
no other course is left, but to deprive the science 
that already exists of its idle conceit, and, since 
it cannot become richer than it is, to erect a new 
profitable science in its place. Thus arises in 
his mind the idea of a scientific Instauratio 
Magna. To enrich science he must reform it, 
open new sources to it, thoroughly change the 
mode of thought to which it has hitherto been 
accustomed. The tree of knowledge, which 
Bacon found, had ceased to bear fruit ; nothing 
but dry leaves could be shaken from its branches, 
and with this occupation, as Bacon saw, the 
learned by profession employed themselves to 
their own infinite satisfaction. Bacon had made 
himself acquainted with scholastic learning, and 
to the question, as to what he had found in the 
books of the schools, he replied with the answer 
of Hamlet to Polonius : — " Words — words — 
words." This dead, antiquated word-learning 
was, if he could carry out his intent, to be suc- 
ceeded by a new, fruitful science, springing up 
with youthful life. 

From the character of Bacon we may infer in 
what sense, and in what sense only, he could 
reform science. Open to the world, greedy for 
honour and distinction, full of interest for pub- 


lie life, as he himself was, he wished to make sci- 
ence think practically, to direct her understanding 
to realities alone, at the same time rendering this 
understanding so calm and subtle that it could 
contemplate things without prejudice, and investi- 
gate them properly. For this purpose science 
required a guiding method. Such a method 
Bacon laid down. It required a number of 
expedients to overcome the difficulties of the un- 
wonted route. Bacon discovered these expedients 
with his own peculiar adroitness ; he gave his 
theory the movable, pliable form that could en- 
tirely accommodate itself to circumstances, al- 
ways discover the assailable side, find the proper 
handle for every case. This scientific tendency 
and the genius of Bacon were completely made 
for each other. I say again : the science, which 
Bacon proposed to himself, was highly favoured by 
his moral constitution. With respect to the pas-"- 
sions he was in a position of natural and therefore 
happy neutrality. His mind, never misled, never 
dazzled, never abandoned to the sway of ex- 
clusive aflPections, never chained to objects of the 
heart, could, with all the deeper interest and with 
all the greater clearness, direct itself to a com- 
prehensive whole. His cool heart supported his 
penetrating intellect. The science that Bacon 
contemplated required above everything a sober. 


cold intellect, to which the coolness of his affec- 
tions was highly favourable. In science he would 
only allow the anatomical analysis of things ; the 
operation of the understanding, that armed with 
an instrument palpably enters into the interior of 
a subject.* On this account he necessarily smo- 
thered all feelings connected with the tastes or 
the affections. It may be remarked, by the way, 
that Bacon even desired vivisection for the in- 
terests of science. 

In a word, Bacon^s character was as practical, 
as cool, as supple as the science which he desired and 
prescribed for his age. All those personal pecu- 
liarities which cast so many shadows upon his 
life appear as so many bright places in his science, 
for which he was exactly fitted, not only by his 
head, but by his heart. A man's merit must 
never be judged without his brains, nor the brains 
without the man. The lines which in Bacon 
mark the direction of his practical life and his 
science are not divergent, but parallel. The same 
man who, being at first a poor barrister, could make 
himself a powerful Lord Chancellor, also made 

* The German word is " object," but this is one of the cases 
in which that word is best rendered in English by " subject," 
to which it generally stands in direct contradiction. — J. O. 


at first, a disciple of the Aristotelian philosophy 
as taught by the schoolmen. In the spheres both 
of politics and of science his aspiring genius was 
early manifested. "When in 1577 *, a boy of six- 
teen, he quitted the University of Cambridge, he 
already felt disgusted with the scholastic philo- 
sophy. We do not mean to maintain that he 
then saw his way plainly before him, and had 
clearly apprehended his plans of reform. A 
paper which might have furnished information on 
the subject is, unfortunately, lost. The later 
writings with which we are acquainted show that 
Bacon, at least to outward appearance, used great 
caution in abandoning the scholastic philosophy. 
In his " Cogitata et Yisaf," which was the first 
sketch of his " Novum Organum," Bacon ap- 
peared, for the first time, as the open and decided 
adversary of the scholastic philosophy, while the 
spirit that appears in the first sketch of his second 
great work, "De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientia- 

* According to Mr. Spedding, Bacon left Cambridge 1575. — 
J. O. 

f Published in 1612. The work " De Sapientia Veterum " 
appeared in the same year. The chronology of Bacon's works 
is sometimes uncertain, and is so in this case. We take Lord 
Campbell for our guide. — Author's note. [The "Cogitata et 
Visa" was sent to Bodley in 1607, as can be proTed by a letter 
of Bodley's now extant — J. O.] 



rum,"* although foreign to the system of the 
schools, is not so unequivocally hostile. Even 
this trait is truly Baconian. He approached his 
goal step by step, looking far, and expressing 
himself cautiously. The part that Bacon in- 
tended to play in science, and the strong feeling 
he entertained of his own scientific power long 
before he boldly expressed his views, may be 
gathered from one of his letters to his uncle. 
Lord Burleigh, who probably, from selfish mo- 
tives, did not assist him in his political career. 
He writes in the year 1591 : "I confess that I 
have as vast contemplative ends as I have moderate 
civil ends, for I have taken all knowledge to be 
my providence (province ?) ; and if I could purge it 
of two sorts of rovers, whereof the one with frivo- 
lous disputations, confutations, and verbosities ; 
the other, with blind experiments and auricular 
traditions and impostures, hath committed so many 
spoils ; I hope I should bring in industrious ob- 
servations, grounded conclusions, and profitable 
inventions and discoveries, the best state of that 

* The first outline of this work bears the title, " The Two 
Books of ]?i-aucis Bacon of the Proficience and Advancement of 
Learning, Divine and Human," and was published in 1605. 
The Latin translation, in which the work was considerably 
enlarged, appeared in nine books, under the title given in the 
text, in the year 1623. — Author's note. 


providence (province?)." What Bacon always 
desired in science is here expressed in a few 
words. His plans were as sober and practical as 
was possible in the region of science. But what 
thinker to this day can escape the imputation of 
being a dreamer ? In such a light did Bacon, 
who wished to awaken science from her long 
dream, appear to the Burleighs ; in such a light 
they represented him to Queen Elizabeth. 

Bacon's political career exactly corresponded 
to his progress in science. His efforts in both 
were directed to great ends ; in both he started 
with far-seeing projects, and achieved brilliant 
results. During a tour in France, whither, after 
leaving Cambridge, he accompanied the English 
ambassador*, he wrote, at the early age of nine- 
teen, a treatise on the state of Europe (" De 
Statu Europse"). In 1580 1 the death of his 
father called him back ; and soon afterwards he 
drew up his first philosophical sketch, which has 
not been preserved, and which bears the pompous 
title, " Temporis partum Maximum." By his 
" Essays," published in 1597, he became one of 
the most widely read and popular authors in 
England. In the reign of James I. he rose in 

* Sir Amyas Paulet. — J O. 

f According to Mr. Spedding, in February, 1578-9. 

D 2 


philosophical importance as he rose in office. The 
sketch of his " Novum Organum," entitled " Co- 
gitata et Visa," appeared in the year when he 
was made Attorney- General, and the " Novum 
Organum " itself crowned his philosophical career 
at the very moment when his political career had 
ended with the dignity of Chancellor. 

If Bacon had a passion which sincerely and 
powerfully occupied his mind, it was the passion 
for science alone. Science was the only friend 
to whom he remained true ; she accompanied 
him through his restless and busy life, and to her 
did the ever-active man return in the hours of 
his leisure. The thirst for science was his greatest 
ambition ; this alone he could never satisfy ; and 
its gratification constituted the real purpose and 
the purest felicity of his life. This passion con- 
soled and elevated the fallen man in his misfortunes 
after all his other ambitious effi)rts were hope- 
lessly thwarted, and it remained faithful to him 
till death. Science was Bacon's last destiny, and 
even death bore witness to her fidelity. He died 
on the morning of Easter Sunday (April 9th) 
1626, in consequence of a physical experiment*; 

* Thinking that flesh might possibly he preserved as well in 
snow as in salt, he alighted from his coach at the bottom of 
Highgate Hill, while snow was lying on the ground, and buying 


and one of the first sentences which, with his 
dying hand, he wrote to a friend, was this : " The 
experiment succeeded excellently well." 

a hen at the house of a poor woman, made the experiment on the 
spot. The snow chilled him, and not being able to return to 
Gray's Inn, where he then resided, he was taken to the Earl of 
Arundel's house, where he was put into a damp bed. The 
letter cited above was addressed to Lord Arundel, at whose 
house he died, — J. O. 

I. 3 




We hasten to protest against an error respect- 
ing the Baconian philosophy that is widely difiused, 
and has taken deep root in Germany especially. 
The judgment formed of Bacon by the majority 
is to this effect, that he was a very fertile and 
suggestive, but by no means a consistent* thinker ; 
that the constitution of his philosophy is deficient 
in rigidly scientific connection and in logical se- 
quence of its different parts, and that, perhaps, 
this deficiency arises from internal causes. If 
by consistency they mean systematic form, they 
are quite right in denying it to the Baconian 
philosophy. There are philosophies that neither 
can nor are intended to be systems ; and the 
Baconian is one of them. But system and co7i- 
sistency are by no means identical. The syste- 
matic course of ideas is confined within narrow 

* "Kein consequenter Denker." The word " consistent " is 
too strong to be an equivalent for " consequent," but its exact 
force in this place will, I trust, be apparent from the context. 
— J. 0. 


limits, and may be compared to a movement in a 
circular track; the (merely) consistent course, 
while it admits of logical deduction from its 
premises, can as well return upon itself, as 
admit of continuance in an infinite line. And 
this last is the course designedly taken by the 
Baconian philosophy ; it purposely avoids the 
systematic circle ; but on the path it has chosen 
it pursues a logical and weU-connected chain of 
thought. The very fact that this consistency in 
the Baconian philosophy has been so little under- 
stood and appreciated, renders it our especial duty 
to remove all doubts respecting its logical sound- 
ness. Two faults, that have been commonly 
committed in forming notions respecting Bacon, 
have led to the errors against which we are now 
contending. One fault consists in that hasty 
knowledge which ever dwells on the surface of 
the Baconian philosophy, and does not penetrate 
to its centre. This surface presents, indeed, a 
motley aspect. The second fault consists in 
beginning with a wrong point of view when i 
following out Bacon's course of ideas. Thus con- 
templated, the sequence certainly looks arbitrary 
enough. But of what sort is the contemplation ? 
Every rigid course of thought is determined 
by two points, that from which it proceeds, and 
that to which it tends ; the former is the starting- 

D 4 


point, the latter is the goal. The question is, 
which of these two points is first gioen, first 
apprehended in the mind ; whether the thought 
first settles its starting-point, and then by a 
logical progress seeks its goal, or whether it 
first takes a clear view of its goal, and then con- 
siders which road it must pursue, and from what 
point it must set out ? Logical thought is possible 
in both cases ; but in the former case the mode 
of thought is different from that in the latter. 
There, my first thought is the premiss, and the 
further course of ideas consists solely of legiti- 
mate conclusions. Here, my first thought is the 
goal, and with respect to that my premiss is 
framed. Here I reason thus: this is my goal 
which stands as something necessary, and to be 
attained at all events ; now such and such are 
the means which will bring me to that end, and 
these means themselves form a chain, the first link 
of which is my starting-point, and in this sense 
my premiss. Thus I reason from the goal to 
the starting-point. If my conclusions are rightly 
drawn, the course of my ideas is unquestionably 
logical (consequent), but its order and its direction 
are diametrically opposite to those of the other 
course of ideas, which from the given starting- 
point proceeds to the not-given goal. Both 
modes of thought are legitimate, but they differ 


both in course and in tendency. Each has its 
own point of view, and a method depending 
upon it. If the thought tends to a principle, its 
guiding-point is an axiom * ; if it tends to a goal 
that is to be attained, its guiding-point is a 
problem. Axioms suggest deductions ; problems 
require solution. In the one case, I ask, what 
will follow from this principle? In the other, 
how shall I solve this problem? In both cases 
logical and methodical thought is required. The 
first method may be called that of deductions, the 
second that oi solutions ; the former is the synthetic, 
the latter the analytic method. For every de- 
duction is a synthesis, every solution is an analysis. 

Now I maintain that a mind whose first thought 
is not a principle, but a problem to be solved, 
and which begins by proposing to itself a goal 
that is to be reached, — I maintain, I say, that 
such a mind must think analytically ; and in this 
its natural course of ideas must be followed and 
represented by us. First, it apprehends the pro- 
blem, — the goal that hovers before it in the dis- . 
tance, — then the means of solution in a regular 
sequence down to the first link, which oflFers the 
scientific starting-point for the solution itself. 

Such a mind was the mind of Bacon, Not a 

* " Grundsatz." Literally, "fundamental proposition." — J. O. 


principle, but a problem constitutes the first 
thought and guiding-point of his whole philosophy. 
He first clearly apprehends his goal, then he 
reflects on the right means for infallibly attaining 
it. Through the whole course of his ideas he 
never turns his eyes from this goal, but always 
keeps it steadily in view. This setting up of 
goals belonged to the nature of his thought, 
which was therefore thoroughly analytical in its 
method. Bacon himself thought as he wished 
science in general to think ; that is to say, he 
analysed things. His mind was made not to 
deduce from principles, but to solve problems ; 
and as Bacon thought, and indeed could alone 
think, in consequence of the peculiarity of his 
mind, so will he be regarded and represented by 
us, — as an analytical thinker. Every other mode 
of representing him is erroneous. His analytical 
reasoning is in the highest degree close and con- 
sistent. To discover in Bacon this character of 
a logical thinker, we must first suppose the 
problem with and in his mind, then seek the 
means of solution; first set up the goal, then 
discover and smooth the road to it. He is wrongly 
understood when, as is commonly the case, his 
thoughts are set forth synthetically, just as though 
the mode of his thinking resembled that of 
Descartes or Spinoza. We cannot give a synthe- 

SPIEIT OF bacon's AGE. 43 

tical representation of an analytical tliinker without 
perverting his close and logical sequence of ideas 
into one that is arbitrary and unconnected, and thus 
greatly diminishing his philosophical worth ; for it 
is obvious that the analytical reasoning from such 
and such a proposed end to such and such means 
of attaining it is perfectly close and legitimate ; 
while, on the other hand, the synthetical reasoning 
from the means to the end will always appear 
loose and doubtful. The end despotically demands 
the appropriate means ; on the other hand, the 
means can lead to many ends, and why should I 
infer one in particular ? Such an inference would 
be arbitrary. If we assume that Bacon proposed 
to himself a problem that he could only solve 
by experience, and indeed only by one kind of 
experience, we must concede that he was per- 
fectly justified in elevating this to a principle. 
But if, on the other hand. Bacon had set out from 
experience as a first principle, innumerable roads 
might have led him from this point to innumerable 
ends. Why, then, did he choose this one parti- 
cular road, and this one particular end ? Here 
what has just now appeared a necessary thought 
becomes a mere arbitrary caprice ; and it is as a 
necessary sequence of thought that the Baconian 
philosophy is to be comprehended and exhibited. 
This is impossible, so long as it is synthetically 


treated ; and that which to Bacon himself was an 
inference or an intermediate proposition is laid 
down as a fundamental principle. It is useless to 
repeat over and over again that Bacon set out 
from experience. We may just as well say that 
Columbus was a navigator, while the principal 
point is that he discovered America. Mere 
navigation was as little the leading thought of 
Columbus as mere experience was the leading 
thought of Bacon. 

I. The Bacomak Point op View. 


What is the point of view that commands the 
Baconian philosophy from the beginning to the 
end ? Bacon found this point of view by com- 
prehending the problem of his age, and appro- 
priating it to himself. This age was shaken to 
1 its very vitals by those reformatory forces that 
1 had been awakened in the preceding centuries. 
A revolution had made its appearance, which 
brought with it a change, both internal and 
external, in human affairs, and introduced a crisis 
in civilisation, through which tendencies and aims 
were set before man totally different from those 
which he had previously followed. With his 

SPIRIT OF bacon's age. 45 

penetrating intellect. Bacon comprehended the : 
altered physiognomy of his age ; he sought for 
the ultimate causes of the change, and wished to 
make philosophy accord with it. For the new 
life and its impulses he wished to find a new cor- 
responding logic*. Philosophy professes to be the 
love of truth. Bacon would suit this truth to the 
times. " It is the greatest weakness," he says, 
" to attribute infinite credit to authors ; but to 
refuse to Time, the author of all authors, and there- 
fore of all authority, its own prerogative. For 
truth is rightly called the daughter of Time, not 
of authority." * Again : " The opinion which 
men cherish of antiquity is altogether idle, and 
scarcely agrees with the term. For the old age and 
increasing years of the world should in truth be 
regarded as antiquity, and these are to be attri- 
buted to our times, not to that younger period 
of the world, such as it was in the days of 
the (so-called) ancients. For that period, with 
respect to ourselves, was ancient and older ; with 
respect to the world itself, modern and younger."f 

* " Summaj pusiUanimitatis est authoribus infinita tribuere, 
authori autem authomm atque adeo omnia authoritatis, Tempori, 
jus saum denegare. Recte enim Veritas Temporis filia dicitur, 
non Authoritatis." — Nov. Org. I. Aph. 84. 

f " De antiquitate autem, opinio quam homines de ipsa fovent 
negligens omnino est, et vix verbo ipsi congrua. Mandi enim 
senium et grandsevitas pro antiquitate vere habenda sunt ; quae 
temporibus nostris tribui debent, non juniori setati mundi, qualis 


The world in course of time has become older, 
richer, more comprehensive ; science should be 
raised to suit this advanced state of the world. 
The limits of the material world are extended, 
and the intellectual world should not remain 
within its former boundaries. Thus the problem 
proposed by Bacon is this: — So to extend the 
intellectual world (globus intellectualis) that it 
may be able to comprehend the material world, 
such as the latter has become^ " It would be dis- 
honourable to man if the regions of the material 
globe, viz. the lands, the seas, and the stars, should 
be so immensely revealed in our age, and yet 
the boundaries of the intellectual world should be 
confined to the discoveries and straits of the 

What now were the powers that set this new life 
in motion, and put the middle ages "out of joint?" 
What were the mighty changes that stamped 
Bacon's age as new, and fundamentally different 
from all that had preceded it ? The political, sci- 
entific, and geographical conditions of the world 

apud antiquos fuit. Ula enim setas, respectu nostri antiqua et 
major, respectu mimdi ipsius nova et minor fuit." — Nov. Org. I. 
Apli. 84. 

• " Quin et turpe liominibus foret, si globi materialis tractus, 
terrarum videlicet, marium, astrorum, nostris temporibus im- 
mensum aperti et illustrati sint ; globi autem intellectualis fines 
inter veterum inventa et angustias cohibeantur." — Ibid. 


had one after another experienced a thorough 
reform. The material and intellectual position of 
mankind had become quite different since new 
expedients had removed the ancient limits of war, 
science, and navigation. The reform in the art of 
war was based upon the invention of gunpowder ; 
in science upon the invention of printing ; in 
navigation upon the invention of the compass, 
without which the discovery of the new world 
would have been impossible* Discovery, there- 
fore, which was itself dependent upon invention, 
constituted the civilising impulse of that new 
epoch, the spirit of which had penetrated Bacon. 
Here Bacon discovers the secret of his time, its 
essential difference from antiquity and the middle 
ages — the goal to which science must henceforth 
be directed, and which philosophy should alone 

The inventive spirit of man had fashioned the 
new age. Hitherto this had been kept down, 
either because it was lightly esteemed, or because 
the means of liberating it had been wanting — 
because there was no intellect to comprehend and 
regulate it. This, then, was the problem appre- 
hended by Bacon and proposed to his age : — The 
subjection of science to the spirit of invention, 
and the liberation of this spirit from the chance 

* Compare " De Augment. Scient.," Lib. V., Cap. 2. 


by which human inventions had previously beerij 
governed. He would establish a new logic, correJ 
spending to the spirit of invention, by which manJ 
might deliberately and therefore more frequently^ 
achieve what he had previously achieved, as it were] 
by a mere chance, and therefore but seldom ; tha^ 
he might no longer Jind, but invent* Exactly thus' 
does Bacon formulise the problem of his philo- 
sophy ; thus does he define it in his " Cogitata 
et Visa," the concise programme to his " Novum 
Organum." Chance, which has hitherto been the 
cause of inventions, is to be changed into design ; 
art (ars) is to take the place of luck (casus). " He 
thought that if many discoveries chance to men 
not seeking them, but otherwise employed, no one 
could doubt that if the same men were to seek 
discoveries, and that not by fits and starts, but ■ 
by rule and order, many more things would neces- 
sarily be discovered. For though it may happen 
once or twice that some one by chance hits upon 
what has hitherto escaped him, while making every 
effort in the inquiry, yet without doubt the con- 
trary will happen in the long run. For chance 
works rarely, and tardily, and without order; but 
art constantly, rapidly, and in an orderly manner. 

* " TSicht finden, son dern erfinden." There is an antithesis in 
the German words which cannot be reproduced in English. 
-J. 0. 


From those inventions also which have already- 
been brought to light, he thought it might be 
most truly conjectured respecting those that are 
yet hidden. But of these, that some were of such 
a kind that before they were discovered surmises 
concerning them would not readily occur to any 
one's mind. For men commonly guess at new 
things by the example of the old, and the fancies 
they have derived from the latter; which mode 
of conjecture is most fallacious, since those things 
that are sought from the fountain-head do not 
necessarily flow through the accustomed channels. 
Thus, if some one before the invention of cannon 
had described it and its eflFects, and had said that 
a certain thing had been discovered by means of 
which walls and the strongest fortifications might 
be shaken and battered down from a long dis- 
tance, men would certainly have formed many 
and various conjectures as to how the power of 
missive engines and machines might be multiplied 
by weights, wheels, and the like ; but the notion 
of a fiery wind would scarcely have occurred to 
any one, inasmuch as none of them could have 
seen an example of the sort, except perhaps in 
an earthquake or thunder-storm, which they would 
have rejected from consideration, as things not to 
be imitated. In the same manner, if before the 
invention of silken thread some one had talked in 



this fashion, affirming that there was a certain 
thread useful for dress and furniture, which far 
surpassed linen and woollen thread in fineness, 
and at the same time in strength, and also in gloss 
and softness, men would at once have begun to 
guess some sort of vegetable silk, or the more 
delicate hair of some animal, or the feathers and 
down of birds ; whereas if any one had dropped 
a hint about a worm, he would certainly have 
been laughed to scorn for dreaming of some new 
webs of spiders So awkward and ill-con- 
ditioned is the human mind in this case of in- 
vention, that in some things it is first diffident, 
and ever afterwards despises itself; so that first 
it seems incredible that such and such a thing 
could be invented, but after it has been invented 
it then seems incredible that it could have escaped 
the notice of man so long."* 

Herein, then, consists Bacon's principle, which 
is not defined with sufficient accuracy when, as is 
commonly the case, he is called the " Philosopher 
of Experience." This expression is too vague and 
broad. Bacon is the philosopher of Invention ; at 
least his only endeavour is philosophically to com- 
prehend and fortify the inventive spirit of man. 
From this point alone is his opposition to anti- 

* Cogitata et Visa, towards the end. 


quity and his new philosophy to be explained. 
This philosophy is as boundless as the region of 
invention. It is a movable instrument, not a 
fixed edifice of dogmas. It will not endure the 
confinement of system, the fetters of the school, 
the universality and completeness of theory. " Our 
determination is," says Bacon, "to try whether 
we can really lay firmer foundations and extend 
to a greater distance the limits of human power 
and dignity. And although, here and there, upon 
some special points we hold (as we think) more 
true, more certain, and even more profitable tenets 
than those hitherto adopted, yet we offer no uni- 
versal or complete theory."* 

Just as Plato detected, and, we may say, gave 
a logical expression to the spirit that dwelt in the, 
poetry and art of the Greeks, so does Bacon direct 
his glance to the spirit of invention by which 
those discoveries were made that lie at the foun-. 
dation of his age. The two philosophers bear the 
same relation to each other, and are as much dis- 
tinguished from each other as the ages in which 

* " Nobis constitutum est, experiri, an revera potentise et am- 
plitudinis humanae firmiora fundamenta jacere ac fines in 
latius proferre possimus. Atque licet sparsim, et in aliquibus 
sabjeotis specialibus, longe veriora habeamus et certiora (ut arbi- 
tramur), atqne etiam magis fiructuosa, quam quibus homines 
adhuc utuntur, tamen theoriam nullam universalem, aut inte- 
gram proponimus." — Nov. Org. I. 116, 
E 2 


they lived. Both direct their thoughts to human 
art. But the art to which the Greek philosopher 
corresponds is the theoretic, self-sufficient art of 
beauty in form; whereas that which finds its 
representative in Bacon is the practical, inven- 
tion-seeking art of human utility. Bacon himself 
declares, at the end of the first book of his 
" Novum Organum:" " Let any one consider how 
great is the diiference between the life of man in 
the more polished countries of Europe, and that 
in some wild and barbarous region of the New 
Indies. He will deem the diflfer-ence so great, 
"that man may be rightly called a god unto man, 
not only on account of assistance and benefits, 
but also by a comparison of moral conditions. 
And this is the result not of the soil, not of the 
climate, not of any material body, but of the arts. 
It is profitable to note the force, efiect, and con- 
sequences of things invented, which are nowhere 
more manifest than in these three, which were 
unknown to the ancients, and the beginnings of 
which, though recent, are obscure and without 
glory, viz., the art of printing, gunpowder, and 
the mariner's compass. For these three have 
changed the aspect and condition of the whole 
earth ; first, in literature ; secondly, in warfare ; 
thirdly, in navigation. Whence innumerable 
changes have been derived, so that no empire. 


sect, or star seems to have exercised greater 
power or influence over human affairs than these 
mechanical inventions."* 

We need only apprehend the idea of invention 
with analytical clearness to perceive the peculiar 
character of the Baconian philosophy, its object, 
its constitution, and its opposition to antiquity. 
Its sole object is to effect such a reform and 
extension of human science that this may turn to 
invention as its chief end, and to furnish science 
with an instrument which is as well fitted to 
make inventions, as a thermometer to measure 
heat. This instrument is the Logic of Invention 
(ratio inveniendi), which makes the human under- 
standing think in such a manner that it invents 
by necessity. Bacon explains inventive thought ; 
he seeks the method of invention. While he 
exhibits this, he formulises the spirit, and hits the 
central point of his age, more especially fortifying 
the peculiar talent and impulse of his own nation. 
The method of invention is the instrument with 
which Bacon would equip science, and render 
it capable of conquering the world. This in- 
strument is the " Novum Organum," which Bacon 
opposes to the " Organon" of Aristotle. He bears 
the same relation to antiquity as his " Organum " 

* "Kursua (si placet) reputet quispiam, quantum intersit," 
liC—Nov. Org. I. 129. 

E 3 


to that of Aristotle. Bacon analyses invention as 
Aristotle analyses the form of propositions. 

II. The Dominion of Man. 


Invention is the aim of science ; but what is 
the aim of invention ? Usefulness to man, which 
consists in this, that the wants of his life are 
satisfied, his pleasures multiplied, and his power 
increased. In one word, the dominion of man 
over things is the highest and indeed the sole 
end of science ; an end which can only be attained 
by means of inventions. Science should serve 
man, — should make him powerful. We cannot 
be made powerful otherwise than by science, for 
our power over things is solely based on our 
knowledge of their nature. Power consists in 
being able; but ability presupposes knowledge. 
Man can only act so far as he knows ; his capa- 
bility reaches only so far as his knowledge; or, as 
Bacon expresses himself at the commencement of 
the " Novum Organum : " " Human science and 
human power coincide."* 

Science is, with Bacon, not the sole all-sufficient 
end in itself, but the means to a further end. This 

* " Scieutia et potentia humana in idem coincidunt." — Nov. 
Org. I. 3. 


absolute end is the reign of man; the means to 
attain this end are given by invention ; the means 
of invention are furnished by science. Thus, in 
Bacon's eyes, science is eminently practical ; its 
measure is human life, its value consists in its 
utility to man. The further the utility extends 
the greater is the invention, and the greater also 
are the value and power of the science that belongs 
to it. A science that is not practically useful is, 
in Bacon's eyes, worth nothing. To his practical 
mind there is no self-sufficient theory estranged 
from life, and, on the other hand, there is nothing 
in human life that is to be deemed unworthy of 
investigation, or despised as an object for the 
understanding. Science no more distinguishes 
anything as low and vulgar, than the sun over 
our heads : " With regard to the meanness or 
even filthiness of those things, which, as Pliny 
says, are not to be mentioned without an apology, 
they must be admitted into Natural History, 
no less than those which are most magnificent 
and precious. Nor is Natural History polluted 
thereby; for the sun equally enters palaces and 
sewers, nor is he therefore polluted. We neither 
dedicate nor raise a capitol or pyramid to human 
pride, but we found a holy temple in the human 
mind, on the model of the universe. This model, 
therefore, we follow. Whatever is worthy of 
E i 


being, is likewise worthy of knowledge, which Is 
the image of being. Now the mean and splendid 
alike exist."* 

III. The Inteepeetation of Nattjbe. 


The reign of man is the aim of invention. But 
what are its means ? "What are the conditions 
under which alone invention is possible? We 
cannot govern things without knowing them, and 
this knowledge, which at once renders objects 
transparent and subservient to us, can only be 
attained by long intercourse, — by intimate ac- 
quaintance. To understand things we must asso- 
ciate with them, as with men, — live in the midst of 
them. " "We must," says Bacon, " bring men to 
particulars themselves, and their series and orders, 
and men must for awhile prevail upon themselves 

* " Quod Tero ad remm vilitatem attinet, vel etiam turpitudi- 
nem, quibus (ut ait Plinius) honos prsefandus est ; ese res, nou 
minus quam lautissimse et pretiosissimse, in Historlam Natu- 
ralem recipiendas sunt. Neque propterea polluitur Naturalis 
Historia ; sol enim seque palatia et cloacas ingreditur, ueque 
tamen polluitur. Nos autem non Capitolium aliquod aut pyra- 
midem hominum superbise dedicamus aut condimus, sed templum 
sanctum ad exemplar mundi in intellectu humano fundamus. 
Itaque exemplar sequimur. Nam quicquid essentia dignum est, 
id etiam scientia dignum, qu£e est essentiae imago. At yilia 
seque subsistunt atquelauta." — JVof. Org. I. 120. 


to cast aside their (pre-conceived) notions, and 
to form an acquaintance with the things them- 
selves."* This acquaintance or intercourse with 
things consists in experience. Just as a know- 
ledge of man is not to be obtained by construction 
from abstract notions ; so is it with the knowledge 
of things. Science should be the correct image 
of the world ; this it can only become by an ex- 
perience of the world, that sojourns amid things 
and their movements and contemplates them all 
with a free, unprejudiced interest. In this sense 
Bacon makes experience the beginning of science. 
Science should iT rgAn^^ gn j the road to invention 
ia sTinwn by gYpprippAP. In this scnsc is Bacon 
the philosopher of experience. Invention is the 
end, and experience gives the means to that end. 
But mere experience is far from being invention 
in itself. Men have always had experiences, 
and have them every day. Why do they not 
invent in the same proportion ? Simply because 
that is wanting which renders experience in- 
ventive? And by what means is experience 
rendered inventive ? How must it be so ordered 
that invention is its involuntary and necessary 

* " Bestat nobis modus tradendi anus et simplex, ut homines 
ad ipsa particularia et eorum series et ordines adducamus ; et 
nt illi rursus imperent sibi ad tempus abnegationem notionmn, 
et cum rebus ipsis consuescere incipiant," — Nov. Org. L 36, 


result ? Under this definite formula does Bacon 
conceive his problem. 

Invention is an art which differs from aesthetic 
art in this: that the former, by means of the 
imagination, produces something beautiful ; the 
latter, by means of the understanding, produces 
something useful. That which serves mankind, 
augments his power, subjects to him the power of 
things, is useful. The dangerous forces of nature 
are brought under our dominion, and rendered sub- 
servient to our uses, whether as rulers we employ 
them, or as victors ward them off. Lightning 
is a manifestation of natural force that threatens 
us ; the lightning-conductor secures us against 
the threatened danger. Now to make an inven- 
tion of this kind, — ^in fact, to produce anything 
whatever by means of the understanding, — I must 
know all the requisite conditions. Every inven- 
tion is an application of natural laws ; and to 
apply them it is necessary to know them. We 
must know what are the conditions of warmth to 
invent an instrument by which warmth may be 
produced. We must know the natural laws of 
lightning to present the conducting point to the 
destructive spark. And so in every case. Our 
power over nature is based upon our knowledge 
of nature and her operative forces. If I am 
ignorant pf the cause, how can I produce the 


effect ? " Knowledge and power," says Bacon, 
" coincide, since the ignorance of the cause frus- 
trates the eiFect. Nature can only be conquered 
by obedience ; and that which stands as the cause ' 
in contemplation becomes the rule in practice."* 
Thus the right understanding of nature is the 
means by which experience leads to invention. 
If science is the foundation of all invention, so is 
the right understanding of nature, or natural 
science, the foundation of all knowledge. " Al- 
though," says Bacon, " in those very ages in 
which the wit of men and literature flourished 
greatly or even moderately, the smallest part of 
human labour was bestowed upon Natural Philo- 
sophy, this very philosophy is nevertheless to be re- 
garded as the great mother of the sciences." f But 
natural science requires a correct explanation of 
nature, — a knowledge not only of her phenomena. 

* " Scientia et potentia humana in idem coincidnnt, quia igno- 
ratio causae destituit effectum. Natura enim non nisi parendo 
vincitur ; et quod in contemplatione instar causae est, id in opera- 
tione instar regulas est." — iVow. Org. L 3. 

f Tiie above is rather a condensation than a translation of 
the passage (iVou. Org. I. 79.) referred to, which is this : — 
" At secundo loco se ofFert causa ilia magni certe per omnia 
momenti : ea videlicet, quod per illas ipsas states, quibus 
hominum ingenia et literse maxime vel etiam mediocriter floru- 
erint, Natnralis Philosophia minimam partem hnmanse operas 
sortita sit. Atque hsec ipsa nihilominus pro magna scientiarum 
matre haberi debet." — J. 0. 


but also of her laws ; that is to say, a real inter- 
pretation. Here is the decisive point at which 
theory becomes practical, contemplative science 
becomes operative, knowledge becomes produc- 
tive, experience becomes inventive. And inven- 
tion itself forms the transition from the interpre- 
tation of nature to the dominion of man. Through 
science experience becomes invention, through 
invention science becomes human dominion. Our 
power rests upon our invention, and this upon 
our knowledge of things. In Bacon's mind, 
power and knowledge, the dominion of man, and 
the scientific interpretation of nature, belong so, 
essentially to each other, that he treats them as 
synonymous, and connects them with an " or " 
{sive). His " Novum Organum " treats " De 
Interpretatione Naturae sive de Regno Hominis." 
Our power consists in knowledge : in this 
truly philosophical proposition Bacon and Spinoza 
are agreed. According to Bacon, knowledge 
makes us inventive, and therefore powerful) 
According to Spinoza, knowledge makes us free 
by destroying the dominion of the passions, 
and the power of external things over ourselves. 
Here appears the difference of the directions 
taken by the two minds. With Spinoza, our 
power consists in free thought, which remains 
calmly contemplating the world, and is satisfied 


with that condition. With Bacon, our power 
consists in inventive thought, which exerts a 
practical influence over the state of the world, cul- 
tivating it and modifying it. The aim of Spinoza 
is attained when things cease to govern us ; that 
of Bacon, when we govern the things. Bacon 
uses the power of knowledge practically, Spinoza ' 
theoretically; both in the widest sense of the if 
term. Spinoza's aim is contemplation ; culture 
is the aim of Bacon. 


CHAP. Til. 


The leading points in the Baconian philosophy 
stand thus : — Its ultimate purpose is the foun- 

/^ation and augmentation of human dominion ; 

! the nearest means to that end are supplied by- 
culture, which converts physical forces into in- 
struments fitted for man. Now there is no 
culture without invention, which produces the 
means of culture ; no invention without science, 
which makes us acquainted with the laws of 
things ; no science without natural philosophy ; 
no natural philosophy without an interpretation 
of nature that perfects itself according to the 
standard of experience. From every one of 
these as so many points of view Bacon may- 
be characterised, for each gives an essential 
characteristic of his philosophy. He aims at 
the culture of humanity by a skilful application 
of natural science ; he seeks to attain natural 
science by a right use of experience. By a 
correct method he would convert experience into 
science ; by application in the form of invention. 


he woiild convert science into art ; and this 
he would convert into a practical and general 
civilisation, designed for the whole race of man. 
What single name will suffice adequately to 
denote such a mind ? By connecting his points 
of view in such logical order. Bacon becomes a 
great thinker. By opening the widest prospects 
into the realm of science, and into the whole 
sphere of human civilisation, from these points of 
view, by indicating goals and setting up problems 
in every direction, so that his system is nowhere 
brought to a conclusion and dogmatically hedged 
round, the great thinker becomes an epoch-making 
thinker. For it is the peculiarity of epoch-making 
minds that they are open to the future. Bacon; 
designed no finished system, but a living work,j 
that should be continued in the progress of time. '| 
He sowed the seed for a future crop, which was 
to ripen slowly, and not to attain its perfection 
till centuries had elapsed. Bacon was well aware » 
of this ; he was satisfied to be the sower, and to 
begin a work which time alone could complete. 
This feeling with regard to himself was neither 
more nor less than a correct consciousness of his 
cause. At the conclusion of his preface to the 
"Novum Organum"* he says thus: — "Of our- 

" More correctly, the general preface to the "Instauratio 
,"— J. O. 


selves we say nothing ; but for the matter which 
is treated, we desire that men should regard it 
not as an opinion, but as a work, and should be 
assured that we are laying the foundation not of 
any sect or theory, but of that which conduces to 
the use and dignity of man. Next, we desire that, 
laying aside their jealousies and prejudices, they 
may fairly consult their own common advantage, 
and having been rescued by us from the errors 
and obstacles of their road and furnished with our 
defence and assistance, they may themselves par- 
ticipate in the labours that yet remain. More- 
over, that they may be strong in hope, and not 
imagine that our Instauraiio is something infinite 
and beyond the reach of man, when it is really an 
end and legitimate termination to infinite error, and 
is so far mindful of the mortal lot of man that it 
does not hope to accomplish its work within the 
period of a single life, but leaves this to succeeding 
times ; when, moreover, it does not arrogantly 
search for science in the narrow cells of human 
wit, but humbly in the greater world."* In the 

* " De nobis ipsis silemus : de re autem qnse agitur petimus, 
ut homines earn non opinionem, sed opus esse cogitent, ac pro 
certo habeant, non sectse nos alicujus aut placiti sed utilitatis et 
amplitudinis humanse fundamenta moliri. Deinde ut suis com- 
modis sequi, exntis opinionum zelis et prejudiciis, in commune 
consulant, ac ab erroribus viarum atque impedimentis, nostris 
prffisidiis et auxiliis, liberati et muniti laborum qui restant et 


same spirit is the following passage, which occurs 
towards the end of the first book of the " Novum 
Organum : " — " It will not be amiss to distinguish 
three kinds, and, as it were, degrees of human 
ambition ; first, that of those who desire to enlarge 
their own power in their country, which is a 
vulgar and degenerate kind ; next, that of those 
who strive to enlarge the power and dominion of 
their country among the human race, which is 
certainly more dignified, but no less covetous. 
But if one should endeavour to renew and enlarge 
the power and dominion of the human race itself 
over the universe, this ambition (if so it may be 
called) is, beyond a doubt, more sane and noble 
than the other two. Now the dominion of men 
over things depends alone on arts and sciences ; 
for nature is only governed by obeying her."* 

ipsi in partem veniant. Prseterea ut bene sperent, neque Inetau- 
rationem nostram, ut quiddam infinitum et ultra mortale fingant 
et animo coucipiant ; quum revera sit infiniti erroris finis et 
terminus legitimus ; mortalitatis antem et humanitatis non sit 
immemor ; quum rem non intra unius setatis curriculum omnino 
perfici posse confidat scd successioni destinet ; denique scientias 
non per arrogantiam in humani ingenii cellulis, sed submisse 
in mundo majore quserat." 

* "Prseterea, non abs re faerit, tria hominnm ambitionis genera 
et quasi gradus distinguere. Primum eorara, qui propriam po- 
tentiam in patria sua amplificare cupiunt ; quod genus vulgare 
est et degener. Secundum eorum, qui patriae potcntiam et 
imperium inter humanum genus amplificare nituntur ; illud plus 
certe habet dignitatis, cupiditatis haud minus. Quod si quis 


It is obvious that human culture depends upon 
experience, and the latter upon natural science in 
the sense of an interpretation of nature. The 
question remains: How does experience become 
natural science ? For at first it is nothing but a 
perception of single facts, a collecting together of 
manifold instances, an enumeration of the things 
perceived, and their properties; and the experi- 
ence of common minds scarcely ever rises above 
this ordinary level. By what means, then, does 
ordinary experience become scientific (and thus, 
consequently, inventive) experience? By what' 
means does " Natural History " (thus, with Bacon, 
we designate the narration of particulars) become 
Natural Science ? — how does historia naturalis 
become scientia naturalis ? By what means does 
the description of nature (descriptio naturae) be- 
come the interpretation of nature (interpretatio 
naturae)? To these questions we are brought 
back by the problem which Bacon negatively 
proposes in the first book of the " Novum Orga- 
num," and positively solves in the second.* 

human! generis ipsius poteutiam et imperium in lerum univer- 
sitatem instaurare et amplificare conetur, ea proculdubio ambitio 
(si modo ita vocanda sit) reliquis et sanior est et augustior. 
Hominis autem imperium in res, in solis artibua et scientiis 
ponitur. NaturiE^enim non imperatur, nisi parendo." — Nov. 
Org. I. 129. 
* Bacon himself calls the first part of his " Novum Organum " 

THE "IDOLS." 67 

I. The Idols. 

Nature is to be interpreted like a book. The 
best interpretation is that which explains an 
author out of himselfj and imputes to him no 
other sense than his own. The reader should 
not force his own sense upon the author, as he 
will thus render a correct imderstanding im- 
possible, and arrive at an imaginary interpretation, 
which, in truth, is none at all. As the reader 
who makes his comments is to the book, so should 
human experience be with regard to nature. Ac- 
cording to Bacon, science is the edifice of the 
world in the human mind ; hence he calls it a 
temple after the example of the Avorld. The 
understanding should copy nature, and nothing 
but nature, without idealising her, without 
abridging her ; it should add nothing of itself, 
neither take away nor overlook anything belong- 
ing to the object, under the misleading influence 
of a childish and effeminate disgust at that which 
is foolishly termed mean or filthy.* It should 
copy nature by imitating her details, and not from 

" Pars destruens." It is intended to refute adverse view?, and to 
cleanse the human mind, like a threshing-floor, that this may be 
rendered capable and susceptible of a new kind of knowledge. 
Compare "Nov. Org." I. 115. — Author's note. 
* Compare "Nov. Org." I. 120. 
p 2 


its own authority sketch a picture without caring 
for the original. Such a self-created picture ia 
not taken from the nature of things, but is antici- 
pated by the human understanding. Considered 
in relation to the understanding, it is an anticipatio 
mentis; considered in relation to nature, it is an 
anticipatio natures; compared with the original 
external to ourselves, it is no true copy, but a 
mere empty unreal image, that has no existence 
save in our own fancy ; — a creation of the brain 
(Hirngespinnst) or "Idol." Hence the first 
negative condition, without which a knowledge 
of nature is altogether ' impossible, is that idols 
may not be set in the place of real things — that 
in no case may there be an anticipatio mentis. 
Nothing should be anticipated, but all should 
be experienced, that is, derived from the things 
themselves. There should be no general con- 
ceptions (Begriffe) that are not preceded by 
actual observations ; no judgments that are not 
preceded by actual experience ; no anticipatio 
mentis, but only an interpretatio natures* " For 
the sake of distinction," says Bacon, ''we are 
wont to call human reasoning, as applied to 
nature, the anticipation of nature, because it is 
rash and premature ; but that which is properly 

* Compare " Nov. Org.," prsef. (towards Ihe end). 

THE "IDOLS." 69 

deduced from things, the interpretation of nature." * 
Here Bacon discovers the fundamental defect of 
all the science that has preceded him. Nature, 
instead of being interpreted, has been anticipated, 
inasmuch as explanations have been based either 
upon preconceived notions, or upon too scanty 
experience. Either the experience was made 
uader the influence of an anticipatio mentis, or is 
interrupted by such an anticipation ; in both 
cases something is assumed which has been in- 
sufficiently proved or not proved at all by 
experience. Thus there has been no correct 
and penetrating knowledge of nature, and thus 
orderly and deliberate invention has been im- 
possible. Invention has been left to chance ; — 
hence its excessive rarity ; and science has re- 
mained occupied with idle speculations ; — hence 
its sterility. A want of experience, or a too 
credulous experience, lies at the foundation of all 
these deficiencies. 

The human understanding must henceforward 
become the perfectly pure and willing organ of 
experience. It must first get rid of all those 
notions, which it has deduced from its own 

* " Rationem humanam qua ntimur ad naturam, Anticipa- 
tiones Naturae (quia res temeraria est et prsematura), at illam 
rationem quse debitis modis elicitur a rebus, Interpretationem 
Naturae, docendi gratia vocare consuevimus." — Nov. Org. L 26. 
Compare also to 33. inclusive. 

V 3 


nature, not from that of things. These notions 
are not found, but anticipated. Such " Idols " 
belong to human nature, either as a natural or an 
historical inheritance. The natural idols are 
the peculiarities of the human species or of par- 
ticular individuals; and thus comprise errors 
common to the -whole race {idola tribus), and 
accidental individual errors (idola specus). The 
historical idols depend upon manners, usages, 
and customs, such as arise from the inter- 
course between man and man (idola fori), or 
upon general traditions which on the great the- 
atre of humanity are handed down from gene- 
ration to generation (idola theatric These idols 
obscure the human understanding, and hide from 
it the face of nature ; they must be discarded for 
ever on the very threshold of science. " The 
idols and false notions which have hitherto oc- 
cupied the human understanding and are deeply 
rooted in it, not only so beset the minds of men 
that the access of truth is rendered difficult, but 
even when access is given they will again meet 
and trouble us in the very restoration of the 
sciences ; unless men, being forewarned, guard 
themselves as much as possible against them." * 

* " Idola et notiones falssB quse intellectum hnmantiin jam oc- 
cuparunt atque in eo alte hserent, non solum mentes hominnm ita 
obsidcnt ut vcritati aditus difEcilis pateat ; sed ctiam date et 


The " idols," according to Bacon, are the " duties 
of omission" * in the world of science. They re- 
semble ignes futui, which the traveller ought to 
know in order to avoid them. Bacon would 
make us acquainted with these ignes fatui of 
science, that direct us from the true path of 
experience ; therefore he treats first of the de- 
lusions, then of the method of knowledge. 
Whoever seeks real copies of things must beware 
of false semblances, just as the logical thinker 
must be on his guard against sophisms. " The 
doctrine of "Idols," says Bacon, "bears to the 
interpretation of nature a relation similar to that 
which the doctrine of sophisms bears to ordinary 

II. The Baconian Scepticism. 


To oppose idols and prejudices, whencesoever 
they may come, science begins with doubt — with 

concesso adita, ilia rarsns in ipsa instanratione ecientiaram 
occurrent et molesta erunt, nisi homines praemoniti adversus ea 
se quantum fieri potest muniant." — Nov. Org. I. 38. For the 
doctrine of " Idols," compare the following Aphorisms to 68. 

* " Unterlassungspflichten." 

■f- " Doctrina enim de Idolis similiter se habet ad Interpreta- 
tionem Naturse, sicut doctrina de Sophisticis Elenehis ad Dia- 
lecticam Talgsrem." — Nov. Org. I. 40. 
F 4 


utter uncertainty. Doubt is the starting-point, 
not the goal of science ; the goal is certain and 
well-grounded knowledge. Science, according to 
Bacon, should begin with " Acatalepsia," to ter- 
minate in " Eucatalepsia." The Baconian doubt 
seeks to shake not the foundations, but only the 
false foundations of science, that a firm edifice 
after the pattern of the world may be raised in 
the human mind. Bacon agrees with the sceptics 
in his starting-point, not in his result. " The 
views of those who adhered to Acatalepsia and 
our own method agree, to some extent, at the 
commencement; but in the end they differ im- 
mensely, and are completely opposed to each other. 
Tor the sceptics roundly assert that nothing can 
be known at all ; we, that only a small part of 
nature can be known by the method now in 
use. They proceed next to destroy the au- 
thority of the senses and the understanding, 
for which we, on the contrary, invent and sup- 
ply assistance." * And in the same spirit Bacon 
declares, towards the end of the first book of 

* " Katio eorum qui acatalepsiaiu tenuerunt, et via nostra, 
initiis suis quodammodo consentiunt ; exitu immensnm disjun- 
guntur et oppoiiuntur. 1111 enim nihil sciri posse simpliciter 
asscrunt ; nos non multum sciri posse in natura, ea quas nunc 
in usu est via : verum illi exinde authoritatem sensus et intel- 
Icctus destruunt ; nos auxilia iisdem excogitamus et snbmini- 
stramus." — Nov. Org. I, 37. With respect to Bacon's rela- 
tion to the Ancient Sceptics, compare the " Scala Intellectus." 


the " Novum Organum : " " We do not con- 
template and propose Acatalepsia, but Euca- 
talepsia; for we do not derogate from, but assist 
the senses ; and we do not despise, but direct the 
understanding. And it is better to know what 
is necessary, and at the same time to think that 
we do not know it thoroughly, than to think that 
we know thoroughly, and at the same time to 
know nothing of that which is required."* 

Hence we may compare the Baconian doubt 
with the Cartesian; for these two, by eflfecting 
the revival of philosophy, divide the epoch of 
that revival between them. Both of them have 
the same origin and the same tendency, both 
have the same goal before them, and are actuated 
by the same internal conviction, that all the 
knowledge hitherto acquired is but uncertain, 
and that a new kind of knowledge is required. 
The cause of science must once more be under- 
taken from its very commencement ; the work of 
the understanding must be performed anew. Thus 
alike think Bacon and Descartes. Therefore, by 
means of doubt, they withhold their assent from 

» " Nos vero non Acatalepsiam, scd Eucatalepsiam meditamur 
et proponimas : sensui enim non derogamus, sed ministramus ; 
et iatellectum non contemnimus, sed regimus. Atque melius 
est scire quantum opus sit et tamen nos non penitus scire pu- 
tare, quara penitus scire nos putare, et tamen nil eorum quae 
opus est 33ire." — Nov. Org. I. 126. 


all the knowledge that has hitherto been deemed 
unquestionable, in order to obtain a clear field 
for their labour of renovation. Their doubt is of 
the reformatory kind ; it is a purification of the 
understanding, with a view to a perfect renewal 
of science. But now, what is to be effected by 
the understanding thus purified, and therefore, in 
the first instance, vacant? Here the two re- 
formers of science part from each other in the 
opposite directions that are followed by after 
ages ; here, from a common stock, spring the 
two trunks of modern philosophy. Descartes 
says, the pure understanding must be left wholly 
to itself, that from itself alone it may derive all 
its judgments. Bacon on the other hand de- 
clares, in the very preface to the " Novum Or- 
ganum : " " The only remaining hope and salva- 
tion is to begin over again the whole work of the 
mind, so that from the very first the mind may 
not be trusted to itself, but continually directed."* 
The common root of modern philosophy is the 
doubt which is alike Baconian and Cartesian. 
From this doubt springs the pure intellect, which 
is left to itself by Descartes ; while, on the other 
hand, it is fastened by Bacon to the leading- 
strings of nature. From these different, and, we 

* " Eestat unica salus ac sanitas, ut opus universum mentis de 
integro resumatur ; ac mens, jam ab ipso principio, nullo modo 
s'bi permittatur, sed perpctuo rcgatur." — Nov. Org., praef. 


may say, opposite dispositions of the philosophical 
understanding, arise the different directions taken 
by modern philosophy in the progress of its de- 
velopment. One series follows the self-sufficient 
intellect of Descartes, the other the intellect in 
the leading-strings of nature, to which It has been 
attached by Bacon. The representatives of the 
former tendency are necessarily metaphysicians 
and idealists ; those of the latter (necessarily 
likewise) are empiricists and sensualists. The 
Cartesian soil could not do otherwise than bring 
forth a Spinoza and a Leibnitz; the Baconian 
naturally produced a Hobbes and a Locke. 
Leibnitz originates the German, Locke the An- 
glo-Gallic enlightenment (^Aufhldrung), both of 
which lead to a new epoch in philosophy. In 
which they are merged at last. However, we 
need not here follow this yet distant prospect. 

We return to that doubt by means of which 
Bacon and Descartes purify the understanding 
from all prejudices. The understanding so puri- 
fied is directed by Descartes to itself, by Bacon 
to nature ; the former makes it at once self- 
dependent, the latter makes it completely de- 
pendent on nature ; or, to express ourselves 
figuratively, the pure understanding, just newly 
born, is at once matured to manhood with Des- 
cartes ; while with Bacon It is first In a state of 
childhood, and Is treated as a child. This treat- 


ment is less bold, but more judicious, because 
more conformable to nature. Bacon treats the 
understanding like a trainer ; the child ought to 
grow and develop itself gradually. In a child- 
like mind, which stands open, without reserve or 
prejudice, to the impressions of the world, must 
science be renewed, for thus it literally becomes 
once more young. According to the Baconian 
philosophy, the human understanding has a 
Natural History ; while, according to the Car- 
tesian, it is alike devoid of history and nature.* 

Bacon bids science meet the " Idols " with 
annihilating doubt, but nature with pure sus- 
ceptibility t (^Empfdnglichheit). The human un- 
derstanding must resign itself wholly to nature 
with child-like confidence, that it may really feel 
domesticated with nature. Bacon loves to com- 
pare the dominion of man, which consists in 
knowledge, with the kingdom of Heaven, of 
wliich the Bible says : — " Except ye become as 
little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom 
of Heaven." " The idols of every kind," says 
Bacon, " must be abjured and renounced with a 
firm and solemn resolution, and the understanding 
must be wholly freed and cleared from them, that 
the access to the kingdom of man, which is 

* " Natur- und Geschichtslos." f Or " receptivity.'"— J. O. 


founded in science, may be same as that to the 
kingdom of Heaven, where no entrance is possible, 
save by assuming the character of children." * 

III. The Experimentalising Perception. 

In the spirit of Bacon, we may designate that 
view of things as alone correct which remains 
to us after the removal of all idols. These 
Idols are the peculiarities of human nature and 
of individuals, the conventionalities of social 
intercourse, and the authorities confirmed by 
history. All these varieties may incontestibly 
have their value in their proper place, but they' 
have nothing in common with the nature and 
quality of things, and therefore our observation 
of things ought not to be influenced by them. It 
is only with respect to science, which they should 
not affect, that they are idols. Of the classes 
above enumerated we omit that of individual 
peculiarity, as leading too much into the obscure 
and indefinite. The others are more manifestly 

* " Quae omnia (idola) constant! et solcnni decreto sunt ab- 
neganda et renuncianda, et intellectus ab iis omnino liberandns 
est et expnrgandas ; nt non alius fere sit aditus ad regnum 
hominis, quod fundatur in scientiis, quam ad regnum coelorum, 
in quod, nisi sub persona infantis, intrare non datur." — Nofv. 
Org. I. 68. 


and generally important; they are, therefore, 
worthy of a clear and accurate description.* 


What results from our contemplation of things 
after the removal of all the systems and traditions 
supported by historical authority {idola theatri) ? 
On authority, things are considered not as they 
appear to ourselves, but as they appear to public 
opinion, which clothes itself with the dignity of a 
traditional religion or philosophy. Thus they 
are contemplated without any judgment or ex- 
perience of our own. On the other hand, our 
contemplation, when it becomes independent, is 
converted into autopsy, into observation actually 
made by ourselves, so that we no longer take 
upon trust and repeat that which is said or 
reputed true by others, but only adhere, by virtue 
of our own convictions, to that which we have 
ourselves perceived and experienced. Thus, in 
astronomy, for examjjle, the Ptolemsean system, 

• In the omission of the " Idola specus," and in the order in 
which we hare ranged the three other Idols, wo have followed not 
our own choice, but the Baconian prescription. Bacon him- 
self calls the negative part of his lo^ic (that is to say, the refu- 
tation of the Idols) " triplex," and designates the three parts : 
" redargutio philosophiarum " (idola theatri), " red. demonstra- 
tionum" (id. fori), and "red. rationis humanse naturse (id. tri- 
bus). — Vide the tract "Partis instaurationis secundae delineatio." 


supported by a certain interpretation of Scripture, 
was an " Idolum theatri," which science, in the 
person of Copernicus, solemnly and for ever aban- 
doned. Here for the first time she has used her 
own faculties in observing, with perfect indepen- 
dence, whether the sun really moves and the earth 
really stands still, and arrives at a result opposed 
to the belief entertained by public opinion. The 
exclusion from science of the " Idola theatri," as 
decisive grounds, amounts to a declaration that 
science is independent of all belief based on 
authority, and that man is to be referred to his 
own convictions alone. 


After the removal of the first class of idols, 
nothing remains but a personal acquaintance with 
the things themselves. But now in most cases 
we fancy that we know things, without havinc 
seriously learned to know them. We think we 
are certain as to their value, because we possess 
the symbols of it, and circulate them with facility. 
These symbols are names or words, which we know 
sooner than the nature of the things themselves, 
and with the assistance of which men communicate 
their notions to each other. Accustomed from 
childhood to put words in the place of things. 


and with these words to be perfectly Intelligible 
to everybody, we involuntarily take them, mere 
signs as they are, for the things signified, — the 
nominal for the real value. Words are, as it 
were, the current coin, by means of which we 
put forth and take in our notions of things ; they 
constitute, like money in trade, not the real and 
natural, but the conventional value of things, as 
settled by the relations of human intercourse. 
We must not take this market-price for the thing 
itself, with respect to which it Is completely 
extrinsic and indifferent. So little are words 
guided by the nature of things, that (for instance), 
in common parlance*, the sun still moves round 
the earth, though in truth tliis never was the 
case, and though we have long been convinced of 
the contrary. Words do not say what things are, 
Ijut what they denote to us ; they represent our 
own notions, and generally are as uncertain as 
our notions are obscure. Because words and the 
usages of language designate things not as they 
are in their own nature, but as they are considered 
in the intercourse between man and man, Bacon 
reckons the delusion, through which we clino- 
to words, and fancy we grasp the things them- 

* As in expressions that refer to the rising or setting of the 
sun. — J. 0. 


selves, among the Idola Fori* Hence Bacon 
loves so much to oppose the wisdom of words to 
the knowledge of things ; an opposition that fur- 
nished a watchword to his successors. His remarks 
on the subject of words, while treating of the Idola 
Fori, contain a brief programme of all the inquiries 
about language that have been made in accordance 
with his views. In these investigations both the 
" Forum " itself and the " Idols " play their part : 
the Forum, because language appears as a result 
of human invention, that is to say, a mere arbi- 
trary piece of bungling workmanship; the Idols, 
because words represent general conceptions, and 
therefore unreal notions. 


The Idola Theatri consist in this: that we 
take things not as they appear to ourselves, but 
as they are declared to be on the authority of 
another; that we see them with the eyes of others 
instead of our own. The Idola Fori consist in 
this : that we take things not as they are, but as 
they appear to us through the medium of human 
intercourse. What view of things is left after the 
removal of the Idola Fori ? Our own knowledge 
is directed from the signs to the things sicnified, 

* Compare Nov. Org. 59, 60. 


and these can only be learned by our own per- 
ception and investigation. 

But then, is even our own perception correct ? 
Are things really what we take them to be, — as 
they are reflected in our senses? Are the sen- 
sible impressions true copies of things themselves 
— an expression corresponding to their nature, 
and not rather an expression corresponding to our 
own ? Our own perception and conception of 
things is, as it were, a translation of them from 
physical into human nature, from the universe 
into our own individuality; a translation in which 
the original loses its own peculiarity, and arbi- 
trarily assumes an human peculiarity in its stead. 
Thus, even in our own immediate perception of 
tbings, — apart from the doctrines enforced by 
authority and the notions current in social inter- 
course — there is something foreign to the things 
themselves ; something superadded by us ; some- 
thing that lies in the conditions of our nature, so 
that we fail to make true copies of things, and 
produce distorted images instead. Our own notion 
of nature presents delusive phantoms to our gaze, 
deceives us with false representations. These 
are, to use Bacon's words, the Idola Tribus, which 
are the most potent of all, for they govern the 
entire human race ; and their government is the 
hardest to overthrow, inasmuch as they have been 


founded not by historical authority in the course 
of time, but by nature itself. The human soul 
is, indeed, a mirror of things, but this mirror is so 
cut by nature that, while it reflects things, it at 
the same time alters them, and does not exhibit 
one without blending with it an human element, 
— without, by a certain magic, transferring it 
into something human. What is there in common 
between things themselves and human forms ? 
What has the sun to do with the fact that to the 
eyes of an inhabitant of the earth he appears to 
move? This is an illusion, the cause of which 
lies not in the motion of the sun, but in our own 
eyes, to which our own planet is the point of 
view. If I assert that the sun moves, because we 
are taught so by Ptolemy, I judge by an Idolum 
Theatri. If I make the same assertion, on the 
ground that everybody says so likewise, I judge 
by an Idolum Fori. If I say : " The sun moves, 
because I see it move with my own eyes," I 
judge by an Idolum Tribus. I feel, for instance, 
the warmth of the water, and determine the 
degree of warmth by my sensations. But the 
same water appears first cold and a few mo- 
ments afterwards warm, without any change 
having taken place in the degree of its warmth. 
The warmth of my body has changed, and this 
body when heated feels the water cold, when 
o 2 


cooled feels the water warm. Thus is it with 
all our perceptions, — with our entire contem- 
plation of things. We measure and judge them 
by our own standard, we view them from a 
point that lies in our own nature, which is indeed 
the nearest and most natural as far as we are 
concerned, but with respect to the things is per- 
fectly foreign and indifferent. We apprehend 
them not as they are in themselves, but as they 
stand in relation to us ; not according to their 
own analogy, but according to ours; or to use the 
Baconian language, we consider things ex analogia 
hominis, not ex analogia universi. Under this 
formula the Idola Tribus may best be noted. 
" These Idols," says Bacon, " are founded in 
human nature itself, — in the very tribe or race 
of men. It is falsely asserted that human sense 
is the standard of things, since, on the contrary, 
all the perceptions both of the senses and of the 
mind are according to the analogy of man, not 
that of the universe, and the human intellect 
is like an uneven mirror to the rays of things, — 
blending its own nature with the nature of the 
object, so as to distort and disfigure the latter."* 

* " Idola Tribus sunt fandata in ipsa natura humana, atqae in 
ipsa tribu sen gente hominum. Falso enim asseritur, seusum 
humanum esse mensuram rerum; quin contra, omnes percep- 
tiones tam sensus quam mentis sunt ex analogia hominis, non 


This passage is mentioned in very contemptuous 
terms by Spinoza in his letter to Oldenburg. Pie 
treats Bacon as a confused babbler, who talks at 
random about the cause of error and the nature 
of the mind. But, far from refuting Bacon, he 
does not clearly show the point that constitutes 
the utter difference between Bacon and himself. 
It is worth while to give prominence to this point, 
for there is manifestly a great deal in the passage 
above cited that Spinoza himself might have said. 
In the first place, Man is not the measure {or 
standard) of things: this proposition is in the 
very spirit of Spinoza. In the second place, all 
those notions are false that are formed according 
to the analogy of man, and not according to that 
of nature, and herein lies the ground of error, — 
Error consists in the inadequate representation of 
things: this sentence is no less Spinozistic. In 
the third place, all our representations, both sen- 
suous and logical, are according to human analogy, 
and therefore inadequate; the human understanding 
is by nature an inadequate mirror of things. In this 
third proposition alone lies that difference between 
the two that Spinoza should have shown more 
clearly. For, according to him, truth is naturally 

ex analogia universi. Estqae intellectus humanus instar specuU 
insequalis ad radios rerum, qui saam naturam naturae rerum 
immiscet, eamque distorquet et iniicit." — Nov. Org. I. 41. 
a 3 


immanent in the human mind, only it is, at first, 
veiled and obscured by inadequate (sensuous) 
ideas. Hence, with Spinoza, true knowledge 
solely consists in the clearing up of obscure ideas, 
in the emendation of the understanding. With 
him the understanding is corrected from its own 
resources ; while, on the other hand, with Bacon 
it is brought to right knowledge by the leading- 
strings of nature through continued experience. 
This contrast between Spinoza and Bacon is the 
same that is to be found between Bacon and 
Descartes; between Locke and Leibnitz; between 
empiricism and idealism generally. That Spinoza 
will make no concession to his adversary, lies in 
the character of his point of view. Perhaps it 
was displeasing to him to find, from an opposite 
point of view, so much that was kindred to his 
own thoughts ; perhaps this very affinity in Bacon 
especially revolted him. With him the will was 
a consequence of knowledge, and could never, 
therefore, be a ground of error. Now of Bacon 
he says : " Whatever further causes he may as- 
sign to error are easily reducible to the one cause 
of Descartes, namely, that the human will is free 
and more comprehensive than the understanding ; 
or as Bacon himself (Aph. 49.) more confusedly 
expresses himself, because the understanding has 
not the quality of a dry light, but receives an 


Infusion from the will." This passage is not 
accurately quoted.* It stands thus: "The human 
understanding has not the quality of a dry light, 
but receives an infusion from the will and the 
passions, whence science is generated in accord- 
ance with the wish ; for that which man desires 
should be true he the more readily believes." 
Now what does Bacon say ? That desire perplexes 
the understanding. And what says Spinoza ? That 
desire is a perplexed understanding. In point of 
fact, the two propositions declare the same thing, 
namely, the perplexity of desire, f 


Sense and Instrument. 

What then remains for us, when the under- 
standing and the senses deceive us, and the 
human mind is by nature a deceptive mirror 
of things? The understanding and the senses 
must not be left as they are; they must be 
cultivated, corrected, assisted, that they may 
correspond to things ; the magic mirror of the 

* More properly, the quotation is too abruptly terminated. 
—J. 0. i 

f Vide Appendix A. 

o 4 


mind must be made smooth, and polished bright, 
that the speculum in&quale may become a specu- 
lum (Bquale. And how can this be effected? — 
not by nature, but only by art. What is im- 
possible for the mere senses and the unassisted 
understanding, — namely, a correct perception 
of things, — is attainable both by senses and 
understanding with the aid of an instrument. 
Equipped with a fitting instrument, human 
perception becomes correct; without one it is 
fallacious. "What is invisible or obscure to the 
naked eye, becomes visible and clear to the eye 
armed with a microscope or telescope. The 
human hand can, indeed, feel the warmth of the 
water, but cannot arrive at a right judgment 
respecting it ; for it feels its own warmth at the 
same time, and accordingly as this is greater or 
less than the warmth of the water, the latter 
appears cooler or warmer. The actual warmth- 
of the water is only ascertained by the thermo- 
meter, which reveals to the eye what the hand is- 
unable to perceive. We will call perception' 
(JVahrnehmung), when aided by an instrument, 
" observation" {BeohacMung) ; and the process 
by which we exhibit a natural phenomenon in its 
purity, without any heterogeneous element, an 
experiment. In this spirit. Bacon himself declares : 
" Neither the bare hand nor the understanding. 


left to itself, can effect much ; effects are produced 
by means of instruments and helps."* And in 
another place : All true interpretation of nature 
consists in accurate experiments, . whereby the 
senses pronounce judgment only upon the ex- 
periment, but the experiment upon the object 


However, not only in the nature of the senses, 
but also in that of the human understanding, are 
illusive phantoms that destroy the true know- 
ledge of things. And there is one notion, espe- 
cially, that most easily and mischievously misleads 
the human understanding, most effectually falsifies 
the interpretation of nature, and is the chief cause 
of the ignorance and sterility that has hitherto 
prevailed in science. We have a propensity to 
transfer to things our own nature and its attri- 
butes, thus accommodating things to ourselves, 
and not ourselves to things, and apprehending the 
phenomena of nature according to human analogy. 
Thus we interpret nature falsely; endowing her 
with human attributes, and conceiving her not 

* "Nee manus nuda nee intelleetus sibi permissus multuin 
valet ; instrumentis et auxiliis res perficitur." — Nov. Org, L 2. 
t " Causalitat gegen Teleologie." 


something physical, but something anthrppoji^ 
,morphic. It belongs to the very constitution 
of our understanding to form generic ideas ; and 
to that of our will to act with certain ends in 
view. These generic ideas and ends (or goals) 
are forms that belong essentially to man, but 
explain nothing in the nature of things. Never- 
theless, these very ideas that explain nothing 
have hitherto constituted the principles of what 
is called Natural Philosophy. Bacon reckons 
Final Causes among the Idola Tribus, and in the 
region of physics finds them not only useless, but 
injurious. He deduces them in the following 
manner from the propensity of the human under- 
standing : " The human understanding, being 
restless and unable to halt or rest, ever presses 
forward, but in vain. Thus it appears incon- 
ceivable that there is any final boundary to the 
world, but it always seems necessarily to occur 
to us that there must be something beyond. 
Nor, indeed, can we imagine how eternity has 
flowed down to the present day ; for the ordinary 
distinction of an infinity, a parte ante and a parte 
post, cannot hold good, inasmuch as it would 
necessarily follow that one infinity is greater 
than another, and also that infinity is wasting 
away and verging to an end. There is a similar 
Bubtilty with regard to the infinite divisibility of 


lines arising from the weakness of our own faculty 
of thought. But still greater mischief arises from 
this mental impotency in the discovery of causes. 
For though the greatest generalities in nature 
should be positive just as they are found, and in 
point of fact are not causable ; nevertheless the 
human understanding, incapable of rest, seeks for 
something better known. Thus, however, whilst 
aiming at what is more remote, it falls back to 
what is nearer, namely, to final causes, which 
clearly belong more to the nature of man than to 
that of the universe ; and from this source philo- 
sophy has been marvellously corrupted. Indeed, 
it is the part of an inexperienced and shallow 
philosopher to seek for causes in the greatest 
generalities, and not to require a cause for sub- 
ordinate objects."* 

* " Gliscit intellectus humanus, neque consistere aut acquiescere 
potis est, sed ulterius petit ; at frastra. Itaque incogitabile est 
ut sit aliquid extremum ant extimum mundi, sed semper quasi 
necessario occurrit ut sit aliquid ulterius : neque rursus cogitari 
potest quomodo seternita^ defluxerit ad huuc diem; cum dis- 
tinctio ilia quae recipi consuevit, quod sit infinitum a parte ante 
et a parte post, nullo modo constare possit ; quia inde sequeretur 
quod sit unum infinitum alio infinito majus, atquc ut cou- 
sumatur infinitum, et vergat ad finitum. Similis est subtilitas de 
lineis semper diTisibilibus, ex impotentia cogitationis. At majore 
cum pernicie intervenit hsec impotentia mentis in inventione 
causarum : nam cum maxime universalia in natura positiya esse 
debeant, quemadmodum inveniuntur, neque sunt revera causa- 
bilia; tameu intellectus humanus, nescius acquiescere, adhuc 


By the Idea of a final cause, metaphysics are 
distinguished from physics. An interpretation of 
nature by final causes is a mixture of metaphysics 
with physics, which renders the latter confused 
and sterile. Sterility in a science is, to Bacon s 
mind, something deplorable; and as he has 
proposed to free science from its wretched con- 
dition, he is bent upon clearing up perplexities, 
separating what has wrongly mixed, parting the 
heterogeneous. He would exhibit physics in all 
their purity, and therefore he assigns to meta- 
physics the forms and final causes that are of no 
service to physics. Physics are occupied not 
with the forms, but with the matter of things ; 
they explain individual phenomena, are satisfied 
with secondary causes, with which they inter- 
pret everything in nature, and interpreting no- 
thing by final causes, leave the primary origin of 
things to metaphysics. The efficient are, in fact, 
the physical causes. Thus, in his work "De 
Augmentis Scientiarum," Bacon designates the 
theory of final causes as a portion of meta- 

appetit notiora. Turn vero ad ulteriora tendens ad proximiora 
recidit, videlicet ad causas finales, quse sunt plane ex natura 
hominis potius quam univerBi j atque ex hoc fonte philosophiam 
miris modis corruperunt. Est autem seque imperiti et leviter 
philosophantis, in maxime universalibus causam requirere, ac in 
subordinatis et subalternis causam non desiderare." — Nov. Org. 


physics that has hitherto not been overlooked, 
but assigned to a wrong department. " The 
inquiry of final causes," he says, "I am moved 
to report not as omitted, but as misplaced ; and 
yet if it were but a fault in order, I could not 
speak of it, for order is matter of illustration, but 
pertaineth not to the substance of sciences. But 
this misplacing hath caused a deficience, or at 
least a great improficience in the sciences them- 
selves. For the handling of final causes, mixed 
with the rest in physical inquiries, hath inter- 
cepted the severe and diligent inquiry of all real 
and physical causes. . . . And therefore the 
natural philosophy of Democritus and some others 
(who did not suppose a mind or reason in the 
power of things, but attributed the form thereof, 
able to maintain itself, to infinite essays or proofs 
of nature, which they term fortune,) seemeth to 
me, as far as I can judge by the recital and frag- 
ments which remain unto us, in particularities of 
physical causes, more real and better inquired 
than that of Aristotle or Plato." * 

Thus, the position of Bacon among philoso- 
phical minds is determined. He would establish 
the dominion of man over nature, by means of 

' "Advancement of Learning." The parallel passage in 
" De Aug. Scient." to which Dr. Fischer refers, will be found in 
lib. iii. cap. iv. 


invention; he would arrive at invention by the 
interpretation of nature, without idols. Do not, 
in your view of things, allow yourself to be 
swayed by any authority or doctrine whatever, 
but observe for yourself. Learn to know things 
themselves; not through the medium of words, 
but as they are in reality, — not according to 
current notions, but as they are in nature. Make 
experiments and observations for yourself; but 
do not let your observations be affected by ana- 
logies drawn from the nature of man {analogia 
hominis) ; do not be misled by the senses, which 
present you with illusions, nor by the hasty 
understanding that rapidly flies over details and 
involuntarily substitutes itself for the physical 
forces ; that is to say, rest your observations upon 
experiment, set out with the exclusion of final 
causes from your interpretation of nature, nowhere 
seek for anything beyond the eflBcient causes of 
natural phenomena. 

Thus that which remains after the removal of 
all the idols, is experimentalising perception 
from the point of view taken by mechanical or 
physical causality. By this course alone can 
the human mind attain a real copy of nature, 
which according to Bacon is the true object 
of science. "The world is not to be confined 


(as hitherto) within the straits of the intellect, 
but the intellect is to be enlarged to receive the 
image of the world, such as it is." * 

* " Neque enim arctandus est mundus ad angustias intellectus 
(quod adhuc factum est), sed expandendus intellectus et lax- 
andus ad mundi imaginem recipiendam, qualis iuvenitur." — 
Parasceve, TV. 




The only true and fruitful mode of contem- 
plating nature is experimentalising perception, 
directed solely to the efficient causes of things. 
The perception thus attained, after the removal of 
all Idols, — this perfectly objective view of things 
we will, with Bacon, call " pure experience " 
(mera experientia). The end of experience is 
obvious enough ; — it proceeds from the facts of 
nature, and directs itself to their causes. A way, 
therefore, is to be found that will lead from one 
point to another, — not by a mere happy chance, 
but of necessity, — and this way is the method of 
experience. The first task it proposes is to ascer- 
tain facts, that is, to establish what really hap- 
pens, with the circumstances of the event, and 
thus to collect materials, which will form the 
elementary substance — as it were, the capital of 
science. Let us suppose this task — this quastio 
facti — performed to the greatest possible perfec- 
tion, and we have a series of cases, a collection 
of facts, which when they are once established 


can at first merely be enumerated. Thus, the 
performance of the first task consists in the 
sinaple enumeration (enumeratio simplex) of per- 
ceived facts, which, properly arranged, consti- 
tute the description of nature or " Natural 
History." Now how from such a description do 
we get a science of nature ? How from this expe- 
rience do we obtain knowledge ; or, what is the 
same thing, how do we ascend from the experience 
of facts to the experience of causes ? There is no 
real knowledge before the experience of causes, 
or, as Bacon says : " To know truly is to know 
from causes." * How then am I to learn the 
causes, the effective conditions, on which the 
phenomenon in question is to be found? 

I. The Compaeison of several Instances. 

Every natural phenomenon is presented to me 
under certain conditions. The point therefore 
is, among the various data to ascertain those that 
are absolutely necessary and essential to the phe- 
nomenon in question; so that it would not be 
possible without them. " How shall I find the 
essential conditions?" — that is the question, and 
the answer is: "By setting aside whatever is 
non-essential or contingent." The residue of the 

* " Recte ponitnr : yere scire esse per causas scire."— iVoK. 
Org. Lib. IL Aph. 2. 



data, after this operation, will manifestly consist 
of those that are essential and true. As the 
necessary conditions in all instances consist of 
the data that are left after this deduction, Bacon 
terms these the "true difference" {differentia 
vera); which he fiirther designates as the fountain 
of things, operative nature, the form of a given 
phenomenon.* As the true contemplation of 
things is the perception of them by man after the 
removal of all idols, the true conditions of a pheno- 
menon are those that remain after the deduction 
of contingencies. Now arises the question : " How 
shall 1 know what is contingent?" The dis- 
covery of contingencies, and the separation of 
them from the other data, is the real purpose and 
aim of the Baconian experience. If this problem 
is solved, we have arrived at the discernment of 
the essential conditions of a phenomenon, conse- 
quently at the knowledge of the natural law 
itself, or the interpretatio naturcB. 

There is only one way of obtaining the solution, 
viz., the comparison of a number of similar 
instances. This comparison must be of a two- 
fold kind. In the first place we should compare 
several instances in which the same phenomenon 

"■ " Date autem natursE Formara, sive differentiam veram, sive 
naturam naturantem, Five fontem emanationis invenire, opus et 
intentio est Humanse Scientias," — Nov. Org. I. 1. 


(heat, for instance) occurs under various condi- 
tions, then with these instances we should com- 
pare others, where, under similar conditions, the 
same phenomenon does not occur. The former 
instances, which Bacon calls " positive" (instan- 
tice positiva sive convenientes) are similar with 
respect to the phenomenon under consideration ; 
the latter, which he calls "negative" (instantlee 
negativce vel contradictivce) are similar with 
respect to the conditions. What is required, 
therefore, is a comparison of the positive instances 
with each other, and also with the negative. 
Thus if, for instance, heat is the phenomenon 
under consideration, the sun that gives warmth 
is a positive instance ; while, on the other hand, 
the moon and stars that give no warmth are 
negative. From the comparison of these it is 
clear that a celestial luminary is by no means an 
essential condition of light.* Those conditions 
alone are necessary that are connected with the 
phenomenon in every instance ; those that are not 
are merely contingent. There is heat connected 
with phenomena of light, but there is also heat 
without light, and light without heat ; hence light 
is not an essential factor of heatf 

• Or rather, light is not a necessary consequence of a celes- 
tial luminary. — J. 0. 
f Compare Nov. Org. II. 11 — 20. 
H 2 


Thus, by accurate and frequent comparison, 
non-essential conditions are detected, and by their 
exclusion (rejectid) the essential conditions are 
attained. Thus experience proceeds from fact to 
fact till it arrives at a law — from the singular to 
the universal. It confirms fact by experiment; 
discovers, by a fitting comparison of facts, the 
universal law, principle, or axiom by which the 
operation of nature is guided. Thus, to speak in 
the manner of Bacon, experience ascends from 
the experiment to the axiom. This is the me- 
thod of Induction, which Bacon therefore calls 
the true key to natural philosophy. To deduce 
axioms from experiments, " we must first prepare 
a complete and accurate natural and experimental 
history. This constitutes our foundation, for we 
must not imagine or invent, but discover the 
operations of nature. But natural and expe- 
rimental history is so varied and diffuse in its 
material that it confounds and distracts the human 
understanding, unless it be fixed and exhibited in 
due order. Therefore tables and co-ordinations 
of instances must be framed in such a manner 
and order that the understanding may be able to 
act upon them. Even when this is done, the 
understanding, left to itself and its own operation, 
is incompetent and unfit to form axioms, without 
.direction and support. Hence we must, in the 


third place, apply a true and legitimate Induction, 
which is the very key of interpretation."* 

II. The Import of NEGAxrvE Instances. 


Bacon calls his own induction " legitimate " and 
" true " to distinguish it from another that is 
neither legitimate nor true, that proceeds without 
rule, and arrives at false results. Experience 
and induction are in themselves so far from new, 
that, on the contrary, they form the daily sus- 
tenance of our knowledge. Every day makes 
an addition to our experience; and at last, by 
summing up our dally experiences, we arrive at 
a total result, which has, for us, the force of an 
axiom. This inference of a supposed axiom from 
a fact is also of the inductive kind ; and by means 

* " Primo enim paranda est Historia Natnralis et Experi- 
mentalis, sufficiens et bona ; quod fundamentum rei est 5 neque 
enim fingendum aut excogitandam, sed inveniendum; quid 
natura faciat aut ferat. Historia vero Naturalis et Experi- 
mentalis tam varia est et sparsa, ut intellectum confundat et 
disgreget, nisi sistatur et compareat ordine idoneo. Itaque 
formand* sunt Tabulae et Coordinationes Instantiarum, tali 
modo et iustructione ut in eas agere possit intellectus. Id 
quoque licet fiat, tamen intellectus sibi permissus et sponte 
movens incompetens est et inhabilis ad opificium axiomatum, 
nisi regatur et muniatur. Itaque tertio, adhibenda est Induc- 
tio legitima et vera, quae ipsa Clavis est Interpretationis." — 
Nov. Org. II. 10. 

H 3 


of this sort of induction is found that wisdom of 
ordinary life of which we have an instance in the 
" weather-wisdom " of a peasant. But just In 
the same manner we are convinced every day 
that our experiences thus formed are insecure, — 
that our inferences are incorrect. A new expe- 
rience, on which we did not reckon in summing 
up those preceding, shows that our rule was 
false ; and a single instance is sufficient to refute 
the validity of a supposed law. If that which, 
according to our rule, ought to occur, fails to 
occur on one occasion only, this Is a proof that 
the rule was no better than an " idol." Such a 
single case, In opposition to a rule, is a negative 
instance. And In the course of our ordinary ex- 
perience we constantly meet with such negative 
Instances that annihilate the results based upon 
our previous experience, and, on that account, re- 
ceived by us with Implicit faith. Rules for the 
weather are constantly made ridiculous by nega- 
tive instances ; and ordinary experience is not 
more certain than the almanac. Experience does 
not become certain till It has no more to appre- 
hend from negative instances; till its results 
are no longer exposed to the risk of being over- 
thrown every moment by some unexpected occur- 
rence; till. In a word, there are no unforeseen 
cases by which it can be opposed. How is this 


security to be attained? In one way alone. 
Experience muist, as far as it is possible, foresee 
every case ; must guard itself betimes against the 
danger of negative instances, by taking them into 
consideration ; nay, before it draws an inference 
it must itself seek for the negative instances, that 
these may not afterwards rise in opposition and 
overthrow premature results. To distinguish this 
course from that of ordinary experience. Bacon 
calls it " methodical ; " to distinguish it from or- 
dinary induction, he calls it ''true." An expe- 
rience can only be refuted by the testimony of 
opposing facts ; and if there is no fact left to bear 
witness against it, it is altogether irrefutable, — 
stands perfectly firm. The only defence which 
experience can provide against such a testimony 
is by seeking it out, and eliminating it, before a 
final decision is made. As in a lawsuit it should, 
as it were, confront the positive with the negative 
instances, and after the hearing pronounce a 
sentence, according to the approved maxim of 
every fair judge : Audiatur et altera pars 1 

Negative instances render experience difiicult, 
and, in a scientific sense, legitimate. With- 
out them it is easy and uncritical. Thus Bacon 
assigns the highest importance to negative 
instances ; they are with him the criterion of em- 
pirical truth, — its only voucher. We can vouch 
E 4 


for a truth when it cannot be contradicted; we can 
vouch for empirical truth when experience does not 
pronounce any one of its judgments, without taking 
into consideration, elucidating and solving all con- 
tradictory cases. This can only be effected by 
means of negative instances, which compel expe- 
rience to pause at every step, and provide it with 
a clue by which it slowly and surely approaches 
a fixed goal, instead of prematurely hurrying 
towards one that is merely illusive. Thus is ex- 
perience placed beyond the reach of contradiction. 
" I think," says Bacon, " that a form of in- 
duction should be introduced, which from certain 
instances should draw general conclusions, so 
that the impossibility of finding a contrary in- 
stance might be clearly proved."* By an unre- 
mitting comparison of positive with negative in- 
stances, necessary conditions are separated from 
contingencies. Hence Bacon calls the com- 
parative understanding, the " divine fire " by 
which nature is sifted, and the laws of her pheno- 
mena are brought to light. " A solution and 
separation of nature must be effected, not indeed 

* "Visum est ei talem inductionis formam introduci, quae 
ex aliquibus generaliter concludat ; ita ut instantiam contradic- 
toriam inveniri non posse demonstretur." — Cogitata et Vim. It 
is scarcely necessary to state that throughout this treatise Bacon 
speaks of himself in the third person J. O. 


by fire, but by tbe understanding, which is, as 
it were, a divine fire."* " Man is only per- 
mitted to proceed first by negatives, and then to 
arrive at affirmatives, after every kind of ex- 
clusion." f 

We have already seen how the Baconian science 
takes its origin from doubt, which leaves it no- 
thing but pure experience. It does not adhere 
to doubt like the sceptics, but strives after certain 
knowledge, though still taking doubt as a con- 
stant guide through all its investigations, and 
concluding none till this guide has been heard and 
satisfied. That first doubt, which precedes all 
science, makes this science purely empirical. The 
second doubt, that accompanies science at every 
step, renders experience critical. Without the 
first, experience, even in its first origin, would be 
encumbered with idols, and never attain a clear 
result; without the second, it would grasp idols 
instead of truths in its path, and thus become 
credulous and superstitious. Against this con- 
tingency it is protected by unremitting doubt, by 

* " Naturse facienda est prorsus solatio et separatio, non per 
ignem certe, sed per mentem, tanqnam ignem divinum." — Nov, 
Org. n. 16. 

f " (Homini) tantum conceditnr, procedere primo per nega- 
tivas et postremo loco desinere in afifcmativas post omnimodam 
exclusionem." — Nov. Org. IL 15. 


the critical understanding, that against every posi- 
tive instance invokes a negative. Whence, then, 
do credulity and superstition derive their origin ? 
Only from the vs^ant of critical understanding, — 
from the disregard of negative instances, — from 
an easy and indolent contentment with a few 
positive instances picked up at pleasure. If the 
negative instances had obtained a fair hearing, 
there would not have been so many rules about 
the weather; and the many marvels that have 
been ascribed to inexplicable and demoniac powers 
would never have been believed. Thus, for in- 
stance, we are told of somnambulists who predict 
the future. The credulous understanding is 
satisfied with one (perhaps doubtful) instance, 
spreads it about, becomes superstitious, and 
renders others superstitious likewise. The cri- 
tical understanding asks. Where are the som- 
nambulists who do not prophesy, or whose pre- 
dictions are not fulfilled ? Without doubt they 
might be found if they were only sought ,■ and 
one single negative instance would be suflScient 
to banish from the whole world a belief in the 
infallibility of such prophecies, — to convince the 
whole world that in these cases other powers are 
at work than the demoniac or the divine. If every 
belief of the kind that appeals to certain cases, to 


certain experiences, were forced to undergo ex- 
perimentally the ordeal of negative instances, how 
few would endure the test ! What would be- 
come of Swedenborg and Cagliostro ? " It was , 
well answered by him," says Bacon, " who, being 
shown in a temple the votive tablets of those who 
had escaped the peril of shipwreck, and being, 
moreover, pressed whether he would then acknow- 
ledge the power of the gods, asked where were 
the portraits of those who had perished after, 
making their vows. The ' same may be said of 
nearly every kind of superstition, as that of astro- 
logy, dreams, omens, retributive judgments, and 
the like, in which men, delighted with vanities 
of the sort, observe the events when they are 
fulfilled, but neglect or pass them by, though 
much more numerous, whenever a failure occurs. 
But with much more subtilty does this evil in- 
sinuate itself into philosophy and the sciences, 
in which a maxim that has once been accepted 
infects and governs all others, though much more 
worthy of confidence. Besides, even if that 
eagerness and vanity, to which we have referred, 
did not exist, there is still this peculiar and per- 
petual error in the human mind, that it is swayed 
and excited more by affirmatives than by nega- 
tives; whereas it ought duly and regularly to 
regard both with impartiality; nay, in establish- 


ing any true axiom there is greater force in the 
negative than in the positive instance."* For 
manifestly that which is refuted by a single in- 
stance cannot be proved by an hundred. 

The negative instances, of which Bacon would 
make methodical use, stand in his philosophy as a 
security against too credulous reliance on indi- 
vidual experience ; against all hasty assumption ; 
in a word, against "idols." They constitute, in the 
philosophical understanding, the spirit of contra- 
diction ; the logical goad of that " enlightenment" 
{Aufhldrung) that the successors of Bacon have 
diffused over the earth. The Anglo-Gallic " en- 
lightenment," in every case, directs this weapon 

* " Kecte respondit ille, qui, cum suspensa tatula in templo ei 
monstraretur eorum qui vota solverant quod naufragii periculo 
elapsi sint, atque interrogando premeretur anne turn quidem 
deorum numen agnosceret, qusesivit denuo, At vhi sint illi 
depicti qui post vota nuncupata perierint ? Eadem ratio est fere 
omnis superstitionis, ut in astrologicis, in somniis, ominibus, 
nemesibus, et hujusmodi ; in quibus homines delectati hujus- 
modi vanitatibus advertunt eventus ubi implentur, ast ubi fal- 
lunt (licet multo frequentius) tamen negligunt et prtetereunt. 
At longe subtilius serpit hoc malum in philosophiis et scientiis ; 
in quibus quod semel placuit reliqua (licet multo firmiora et 
potiora) inficit et in ordinem redigit. Quinetiam licet abfuerit 
ea quam diximus delectatio et ranitas, is tamen hnmano intel- 
lectui error est proprius et perpetuus, ut magis moveatur et 
excitetm- affirmativis quam negativis j cum rite et ordine Eequum 
se utrique prsebere debeat ; quin contra, in omni axiomate 
vero constituendo, major est vis instantiie negativse." — Nov. 
Org. L 46. 


against the Idola Theatri, with which it con- 
tends, and batters down authorised systems by- 
advancing facts in opposition ; that is to say, 
negative instances. When Locke, for example, 
opposes the Cartesian theory of " Innate Ideas," 
by citing the cases of individuals who are des- 
titute of the ideas that have been called " in- 
nate," it is in a truly Baconian spirit that, while 
attacking the assumed doctrine, he appeals to the 
negative instance. And with this negative in- 
stance he is satisfied that he has completely re- 
futed Descartes. 

Mere experience will not guard us against idols, 
much less the unassisted understanding. Critical 
experience can alone defend science against illusion. 
For mere experience does not observe negative 
instances, but collects cases, and from them hastily 
derives axioms : while as for the unassisted under- 
standing, it derives its knowledge solely from 
itself, without observing any external instances at 
all. Thus neither attain true copies of things. 
On the other hand, critical experience combines 
the wealth of experience with the force of the 
understanding, thus avoiding the one-sidedness 
and consequently the errors of both. It collects 
by sifting, and is thus both experimental and in- 
tellectual; is a rational thinking experience. Here 
alone does Bacon find the salvation of science ; in 


the union of reason and experience, while the de- 
plorable condition of science he attributes to their 
separation. " "We think," he says, " that we have 
established for ever a real and legitimate union 
between the empirical and rational faculties, whose 
morose and inauspicious divorces and repudiations 
have brought so much disturbance to the human 

Thus does Bacon oppose his own point of view 
to that of the past, as new and more elevated, 
reconciling as it does the stubborn differences that 
have hitherto existed. This opposition of facul- 
ties was necessarily unfruitful in its results, and 
it is only from their "union that a fruitful and in- 
ventive science can take its besfinning. In that 
happily figurative language, which constitutes one 
of the great qualities of his style. Bacon com- 
pares mere experience to the ants, that can do 
nothing but collect ; the unaided understanding to 
spiders, that spin webs from themselves ; the 
thinking experience (which is his own) to the 
bees, that collect and separate at the same time. 
He says : " Those who have hitherto treated of 
the sciences have been either empiricists or dog- 
matists. The former, like ants, only heap up, 
and use what they have collected ; the latter, like 
spiders, spin webs out of themselves ; the method 
of the bee is between these, it collects matter 


from the gardens and the fields, but converts and 
digests it through its own faculty. Nor does the 
true labour of philosophy differ from that of the 
bee ; for it relies neither solely nor principally on 
the powers of the mind, nor does it store up un- 
digested in the memory the matter derived from 
Natural History and mechanical experiments, but 
it stores such matter in the understanding, after 
first modifying and subduing it. Therefore, from 
a closer and purer alliance of these faculties (the 
experimental and the rational) than has yet been 
accomplished, we have much to hope."* The 
matter collected by experience is wrought into 
science by methodic treatment ; that is to say, by 
true induction, in relation to which it stands as 
an utensil to be employed, or as a wood to be 
cleared, f 

* " Qui tractaverunt scientias aat Empirici aut Dogmatici 
fuerunt. Empirici, formicse more, congerunt tantum et utuntar ; 
Rationales, aranearum more, telas ex se conficiunt : apis vero 
ratio media tst, quae materiam ex floribns horti et agri elicit, sed 
tamen earn propria facultate vertit et digerit. Neque absimile 
philosophise verum opificium est ; quod nee mentis Tiribus 
tantum aut prsecipue nitit'ur, neque ex historia natural! et 
mechanicis experimentis prsebitam materiam, in memoria in- 
tegram, sed in intellectu mntatam et subactam, reponit. Itaque 
ex harum facultatum . (experimentalis scilicet et rationalis) 
arctiore et sanctiore foedere (quod adhuc factum non est) bene 
sperandum est." — Nov, Org. I. 95. Compare also Cogitata et 

f Thus in the " Parasceve" Bacon describes the " Historia 
Naturalis" as " verse inductionis supellex sui silya." 


ni. Induction and Deduction in the Baconian 

Thus the first problem is solved. It is shown how 
pure experience proceeds from doubt or the des- 
truction of idols, and how this experience results 
in science. It is shown what road leads from 
observation to law, from experiment to axiom. 
The sensuous perception with which experience 
sets out frees itself from its idols (delusions of the 
senses) by rectifying experiments. The inference 
of the law from the fact, with which experience 
ends, frees itself from its idols (fallacious conclu- 
sions) by a careful consideration of negative in- 
stances and a comparison of them with the positive.. 
This comparison is the second experiment. I, as 
it were, ask nature whether the law that is found 
is true, and will stand every test. " An expe- 
riment," says a modern writer, " is a question to 
which nature gives the reply." This proposition 
is so correct that we may also assert its converse. 
Every question put to nature is an experiment ; 
and I question nature by directing myself to her 
instances, and compelling them to render an 
account of themselves. Nature is compared by 
Bacon to Proteus, who only answers when he is 


compelled and bound.* The first experiment 
rectifies the perceptionj the second rectifies the 

The question, then, that remains is this: how 
can knowledge, attained by the way of experience, 
become invention ? For invention is the goal which 
is steadily kept in view by the Baconian philo- 
sophy. The simple answer is: by the applica- 
tion of the discovered laws. If this application 
is possible, invention cannot fail. If I know the 
forces by which lightning is guided and attract- 
ed, I am certain of my lightning-conductor as 
soon as the required forces are at my disposal. 
This application of known natural forces is a 
new question to nature, practically put, — a new 
experiment. Therefore experiment is not only 
the means by which experience becomes science, 
but also the means by which science becomes in- 
vention. Making experiments, I proceed from 
observation to axiom, from axiom to invention. 
" There is left for us," says Bacon, " pure expe- 
rience, which, if it ofiers itself, is called chance ; if 
it is sought, is called experiment. But this kind 
of experience is nothing but a broom without a 
band (as the saying is), a mere groping in the 
dark, as of men who, at night, try all means of 

* Compare " De Augm. Scient." 11. 2. Also the " Wisdom of 
the Ancients," 13. 



discovering the right road, when it would be 
much more expedient to wait for the dawn of 
day, or to kindle a light and then proceed. On 
the contrary, the true order of experience first 
kindles the light, then shows the way by means 
of this light; beginning with a regulated and 
digested, not a misplaced and erratic course of 
experiment, thence deducing axioms, and then, 
from the axioms thus established, making new ex- 
periments. Not even the Divine Word operated 
on the mass of things without order. Let men, 
therefore, cease to wonder, if the whole course of 
science be not run, when they have altogether 
wandered from the path ; quitting and deserting 
experience entirely, or entangling themselves and 
roaming about in it, as in a labyrinth ; when a 
true orderly method would lead them by a sure 
path through the woods of experience to the open 
daylight of axioms."* 

* " Eestat experieutia mera, qnse, si occurrat, casns ; si 
qusesita sit, experimentum nominatur. Hoc autem experientiae 
geiias nihil aliud est, quam (quod aiunt) scopjE dissolutse, et 
mera palpatio, quali liomines noctu utuntur, omnia pertentando, 
si forte in rectam viam incidere detur ; qnibus mnlto satius et 
consultius foret diem prsestolari, ant lumen acceudere, et dein- 
ceps viam inire. At contra, vems experientise ordo primo 
lumen accendit, doinde per lumen iter demonstrat, ineipieudo 
ab experientia ordinata et digesta, et minime prsepostera aut 
erratiea, atque ex ea educendo axiomata, atque ex axiomatibns 
constitutis rursus experimenta nova ; quum nee verbum divinum 


The Baconian Induction proceeds from expe- 
riment to axiom ; the Baconian deduction from 
axiom to experiment.* The former is the me- 
thod of interpretation, the latter that of appli- 
cation. The former ends with the discovery of 
a law, the latter with an invention. Thus does 
Bacon's philosophy, like his life, terminate with 
the triumph of experiment. 

in renim massam absque ordine operatum sit. Itaque desinant 
homines mirari si spatium scientiarum non confectum sit, cum a 
via omnino aberrayerint ; relicta prorsus et deserta experientia 
aut in ipsa (tanquam in labyrintho) se intricando et circumcur- 
sando ; cum rite institutus ordo per experientise sylras ad aperta 
nxiomatum tramite constanti ducat." — Nov. Org. I. 82. 

(With respect to the curious expression, " Scopse dissolutse," 
which occurs in this passage, and which is rendered above, 
" a broom without a band," Mr. Spedding remarks : " I do not 
remember any proverbial expression which answers to this in 
English J but the allusion is to the want of combination and 
coherency in these experiments." — J. O.) 

* Compare these words : " Indicia de Interpretatioue Naturae 
complectuntnr partes in genere duas ; primam de educendis aut 
excitandis axiomatibus ab experientia; secundam de deducen- 
dis aut derivandis experimentis novis ab axiomatibus." — Nov. 
Org. n. 10. (In the places marked by italics. Dr. Kscher 
respectively reads " Judicia" and " experimentis." — J. 0.) 

I 2 




The difficulties to which the method of induction 
is exposed from a scientific point of view are 
obvious ; and Bacon was not the man to conceal 
from himself the difficulties of his subject, either 
through fear or negligence. Indeed, difficulties 
that terrify others are to him no more than in- 
citements that stimulate his enterprising and cir- 
cumspect mind. He seeks them out, and makes 
them conspicuous in order to remove them by as 
many expedients as he can discover. In such 
expedients, when he has found them. Bacon really 
triumphs. Here he is in his proper element ; — 
endowed, not with a systematic, but with an in- 
ventive intellect. To judge him as a system- 
maker (a character to which he does not aspire), 
is simply to misunderstand him ; he is not to be in 
the least confuted by the proof that his method is 
fragmentary, and leads to no final result. Such 
a proof would be as easy as it would be value- 
less. Bacon himself would willingly bear the 


reproach, and would convert It into a defence. 
" It is the very nature of my method," he would 
say, " that it neither seeks nor desires a final 
result. If I have indicated the necessary goals, 
shown the right way, travelled part of this way 
myself, removed diflBculties, and devised expedi- 
ents, I have done enough, and may leave the rest 
to future generations. They wiU go further than 
I ; but it is to be hoped they will not arrive at an 
absolute conclusion. It is suflScient, to guide men 
into the path of progressive cultivation, to fur- 
nish them with means for the extension of their 
knowledge, and consequently of their dominion. 
On this path every point affords a triumph, and 
constitutes a goal in itself. As for the last goal, 
— the conclusion of all toil, — those alone can 
reach it who take no part in the great race of 
human faculties." Thoroughly to understand such 
minds as that of Bacon, we must look for them 
where their own method leaves them in the lurch ; 
where they are forced to exert their own per- 
sonal faculties ; where they are compelled to fill 
up the gaps in their theory by means of their 
genius, of their individual tact, of that something 
which I may call the generalship of philosophy. 
If Bacon's historical importance is most con- 
spicuous when he formulises his problem, and 
propounds his method, his personal peculiarity, 

I 3 


his own especial talent is most visibly shown 
when, with expedients of his own invention, he 
defends himself against the diflSculties by which 
his method is impeded. Here we can see who 
is master and who is disciple ; for it commonly 
happens that a gap in the master's method is also 
a gap in the head of the scholar, but none at all 
in the head of the master. Thus, even at the 
present day, the disciples of Bacon boast much of 
Bacon's method when they oppose the contrary 
tendency, which is its complement. They do not 
know how much this tendency was akin to the 
mind of Bacon ; how he grasped it involuntarily 
and instinctively when his method abandoned 
him. They do not know that he, the master, 
clearly perceived those defects in his method 
which they, the disciples, would willingly ignore. 
When Bacon can proceed no further as an expe- 
rimental investigator of nature, he becomes, in 
spite of his method, a speculative natural philo- 
sopher. We have designedly pointed out the 
affinity between Bacon and his intellectual anti- 
podes, that we may show how comprehensively 
he thought, and how he could complete himself 
from his own resources. Thus, in the founda- 
tion of philosophy, he agreed with Descartes; 
in his physical views, with Spinoza; and even 
in the auxiliary forces {HiXlfstrupperi) of his 


philosophy a similarity to the speculative ideas 
of Leibnitz, Herder, and Schelling may be dis- 

I. The Defects of the Baconian Method. 

What is the purpose of the inductive method 
in Bacon's sense of the word ? It would reduce 
natural science to axioms as indisputable as those 
of mathematics, and these axioms it would discover 
on the path of critical experience by an unre- 
mitting observation of negative instances. Now 
here arises a double difficulty : 

1. The observation of negative Instances by no 
means implies their exhaustion; and yet they 
must be exhausted if an axiom is to be established. 
Against the axiom It must no longer be possible 
to oppose a single negative Instance ; and this 
impossibility must be capable of demonstration.* 
That we cease to find negative instances is not 
enough; we must also be able to prove that 
there are really no more. Now this proof can 
never be furnished by experience, which cannot 
even assert, much less prove, that a contradictory 
instance is Impossible; for nature Is richer than 
experience. Bacon rightly desires that science 

• Vide p. 104. 
I 4 


should seek after axioms in that sense of thorough 
universality and necessity that prohibits any 
exception. But this very universality, in all its 
strictness, is never to be completely attained by 
the way of experience, but can only be approached. 
By the method of induction, the negative instances 
can never be drained to the lees. 

2. But the very observation of negative in- 
stances, consisting as it does of a careful com- 
parison betvreen positive and contradictory cases, 
is attended vrith difficulty. So long as these 
cases balance each other, very many of them 
must be collected, and an accurate comparison 
must be continued through a long series of them, 
before we can so much as attempt to deduce an 
axiom from the facts before us. Everything 
depends on the exclusion of contingencies ; and 
to effect this purpose many cases, much time, and 
much labour, are required. An inference drawn 
from Si few cases has manifestly more to fear from 
negative instances than one that has been drawn 
from many. In the number, therefore, of cases 
compared, lies the only possible guarantee against 
the existence of negative instances. 


n. The Peerogative Instances. 

The difficulties are manifest. Means are to be 
sought for removing, or at least lightening them. 
Such means are the auxilia mentis, enumerated 
by Bacon, who, moreover, expatiates fully on one 
of them in the second book of his " Novum 
Organum." * 

This one expedient is the chief of them all; 
its use is to support the method by completing 
it on the one hand, and facilitating it on the 
other. The method consists in the separation of 
contingent from necessary conditions, and its 
difficulty lies in the breadth of the required 
material, — in the tediousness, minuteness, and 
insecurity of the comparison. By facilitating 
the work of separation, we likewise shorten it, 
rendering the contingent conditions more easily 
discernible, the essential more capable of super- 
vision. This can only be effected by reducing 
the many cases to a few, so that a few will serve 
me in the place of many. But by what right 
can I do this ? So long as one case is as worthy 

* Compare Nov. Org. II. 21 — 52. The second vol. of the 
" NoTum Organum" is unfinished, as well as the " Instauratio 
Magna," of which the whole " Novum Organum " was to have 
formed the second part. 


of attention as another, so long as in this respect 
opposite cases are equally balanced, we must 
obviously have many of them before we can 
make any efficient comparison at all. But if 
there are certain cases, one of which is equal 
in value to a series of others, we shall then 
rightly consider one of the former, instead of 
many of the latter, and thus the more speedily 
obtain our result. Such cases are more worthy 
of our observation than the rest, and have, by 
their very nature, a sort of prerogative. Hence 
they are called ''prerogative instances" by Bacon. 
Without doubt there are cases in which a given 
natural phenomenon is exhibited more purely and 
free from mixture than in others ; in which the 
contingent circumstances, being fewer, may 
be more rapidly excluded, and therefore the 
essential conditions more easily and clearly ascer- 
tained. A prerogative instance facilitates the 
work of separation, inasmuch as it shows me, 
almost at a single glance, the true difference 
{vera differentia), the operative nature, the law of 
the phenomenon. "What I should otherwise be 
forced to seek with great toil, and by a tedious 
comparison from a multitude of instances, I here 
find at once presented in a single phenomenon. 
Thus, for example, if the question is of specific 
gravity, the mere fact that quicksilver is so much 


heavier than gold is sufficient to show that the 
specific graA'ity of a body is regulated by its 
mass, not by the cohesion of its parts. This one 
observation will save me many others.* Or if 
the question is respecting a phenomenon that is 
to be found in all bodies, I shall find the purest 
specimen in such bodies that have little or nothing 
in common with others. Such "solitary in- 
stances," as Bacon calls them, save us the trouble 
of future comparison. Thus, for example, the 
phenomenon of colour is discovered most readily, 
and -with the least heterogeneous admixture, in 
prisms, crystals, and dewdrops ; for these have 
little or nothing; in common with other coloured 
bodies, such as flowers, stones, metals, varieties 
of wood, &c. They are, in this respect, single 
instances {instantia solitarieB) ; and from observing 
them we easily arrive at the result, that " colour 
is nothing but a modification of the image of the 
incident and absorbed light ; in the former case, 
by the different degrees of incidence ; in the 
latter, by the textures and various forms of 
bodies." t 

* Such prerogatire instances are called by Bacon: OstensiTse, 
Liberate, Prsedominantes, and Elucescentise. Nov. Org. II, 24. 

f " Facile coUigitmr quod color nil aliud sit quam modificatio 
imaginis lucis immissae et receptae ; in priore genere per gradus 
diversos incidentiae, in posteriore per texturas et rarios schema- 
tismos corporis." 


Gothe, in his " Materials towards the History 
of the Theory of Colours," has made mention of 
Bacon ; but, strangely enough, he has not cited 
this remarkable passage. Evidently he was not 
aware of it ; for, if he had been, he would cer- 
tainly have referred to it, inasmuch as it confirms 
his own view. In fact, it contains the principle 
of Gothe's theory before Newton. Gothe is 
altogether ignorant of the Baconian theory of 
Prerogative Instances, otherwise he would not 
have said that to Bacon, in the broad region of 
phenomena, all things were alike. Indeed, he 
treats the general method of Bacon with too much 
contempt, ranking it no higher than ordinary ex- 
perience, and accusing it of leading mankind to a 
boundless empiricism, " whereby they acquired 
such a horror of all method, that they regarded 
chaotic disorder as the only soil in which science 
could really thrive." This reproach applies to 
most of those who, at the present day, profess to 
be followers of Bacon, but not to Bacon himself, 
whose intellect was not only methodical, but even 
speculative. His explanation of the phenomenon 
of colour, which is merely given by way of ex- 
ample, while he is treating of another subject, 
expresses the same fundamental thought that 
Gothe sought to establish, — as he believed, for 
the first time, — against Newton. Gothe says of 


Newton's Theory of Colours : ■ — "By his desire 
to keep light alone in view, Newton seems to set 
out from a simple principle, but he imposes con- 
ditions upon it, as we do ; while, however, he 
denies their integrating part in producing the 
result." These conditions are bodies transparent 
and opaque, and the share that they take in the pro- 
duction of colour is clearly and definitely declared 
by Bacon in the passage cited above. * 

m. Natural Analogies. 

Prerogative Instances, of which Bacon enu- 
merates twenty-seven, are phenomena that pre- 
eminently rivet, and, moreover, merit our atten- 
tion. They are pregnant instances from which 
much may be inferred by an accelerated induc- 
tion, by a rapid separation of the contingent from 
the necessary. But, according to Bacon, all 
induction, all methodical experience is directed 
towards real natural philosophy, which, like every 
earnest science, necessarily strives after perfection, 
and, from a knowledge of the individual, seeks a 
knowledge of the universal. To this truly scien- 
tific impulse Bacon was by no means foreign. 
Like every other great thinker, he possessed it ; 

♦ Vide Appendix B. 


the knowledge of the whole was ever before his eyes, 
as the last point to which natural science should 
tend; only, according to his view, it should be 
attained by the labour of bees, not by that of 
spiders. Induction proceeds from observation to 
axiom, from fact to law ; when it has explained a 
few facts, it is naturally impelled to explain more, 
to extend the compass of its laws, and to progress 
continually in the generalisation of its axioms. The 
most universal axiom is that of entire nature ; the 
highest law is that which explains all phenomena. 
As every law expresses the unity of certain phe- 
nomena, so does this highest law express the 
unity of nature as a whole ; the unitas naturce. 
This is the goal which Bacon proposes to science ; 
to this his method is expressly directed. He did 
not lay down the unity of nature as a principle, 
but would learn it from nature herself, would infer 
it from her phenomena. Like Spinoza, he sees 
in things a natura naturata, at the basis of which, 
as an operative power, lies the natura naturans, 
which, in his eyes, is also a common source of 
all things, — a unitas natura. However, while 
Spinoza, from the natura naturans would deduce 
the naturata, Bacon, on the other hand, would 
form the naturata iraduce the naturans. 

He therefore seeks phenomena in nature, that 
point to the unity of the whole, open a view into 


the unity of entire nature, and thus assist the 
inferences of induction. If there are certain 
phenomena which, more than others, lead us to 
surmise the unity of the whole, they rivet our at- 
tention, when directed to the whole, as so many 
prerogative instances. Of what kind these preg- 
nant instances must he, is obvious enough. They 
are the prominent resemblances in the various 
formations of nature, the significant analogies 
that announce to us a unanimity in the operative 
forces. Here Bacon regards induction in the 
light of analogy, that is, he leads the investiga- 
tions of physical science to the affinity of things, 
by directing them to the unity of the whole.* 
He shows as it were nature's family likenesses, 
and we have now to find the pedigree of things, 
together with its roots. 

In the exhibition of analogies. Bacon displays 
a characteristic peculiarity of his mind. To re- 
gard induction in the light of analogy, the things 
analogous must be discovered and correctly ob- 
served. Now the discovery is made not by the 
method, but by the eye of the investigator ; the 
method follows the discovery, when the latter is 

* Compare Nov. Org. W 21: "Inter Prserogativas Instan- 
tiarum ponemus sexto loco Instantias conformes, sive propor- 
tionatas ; quas etiam parallelas, aiye similititdines pht/sicas, appel- 
lare consueviraus." 


already made. Moreover, it is not by mere sen- 
suous perception, though aided by artificial in- 
struments, that analogies are detected, but by the 
further penetration of the mind. The important 
analogies are those internal, secret resemblances, 
that are not to be found on the surface of things, 
— not to be apprehended at a glance by the senses. 
A speculative spirit, a genius for investigation, 
must seek them out ; the tact that accompanies 
genius must light upon them. Both these may be 
methodically cultivated, but neither can be given. 
Every true analogy is a correct combination made 
by a judicious intellect. Dexterous as Bacon 
is in supporting his method by means of striking 
combinations, he still cautiously restrains the 
readily combining intellect by the aid of his 
methodical spirit. I will not assert that Bacon 
himself never transcended these bounds, that all 
his analogies were as felicitous as they are bold 
and ingenious ; but with respect to the scope and 
scientific value of analogy, he was perfectly 
clear. He sought an equilibrium between his 
genius and his method; by which, alternately, 
his mind was ever influenced. Even before 
he adduces his analogies — (as mere examples, 
which he scatters about heedlessly as he goes 
along, but which would afford an ample sus- 
tenance to many a natural philosopher of modern 


times), he sets judicious limits to their importance, 
and the use that is to be made of them. To him 
they appear rather as suggestive than as sources 
of exact knowledge, and serve more to direct the 
contemplative understanding to the whole than 
to instruct it in details. The analogies are, as it 
were, the first chords that we hear of the harmony 
of the universe. " They are, as it were," says 
Bacon, "the first and truest steps towards the 
union of nature. They do not at once establish 
an axiom, but only indicate and observe a certain 
conformity of bodies to each other. But although 
they do not conduce much to the discovery of 
general laws (or forms), they are, nevertheless, of 
great service in disclosing the fabrication of parts 
of the universe, and practise a sort of anatomy 
upon its members. Thence they sometimes lead us, 
as if by hand, to sublime and noble axioms, espe- 
cially those that relate to the configuration of the 
world rather than to simple natures and forms." * 

* " Sunt tanqaam primi et infiini grados ad nnionem Naturae. 
Neque constituunt aliquod axioma statim ab initio, sed indicant 
et observant tantum quendam consensum corporum. Attamen 
licet non multum promoveant ad inveniendas formas, nihilo- 
minus magna cum utilitate reyelant partium universi fabricam, 
et in membris ejus exercent Teluti anatomiam quandam j atque 
proinde veluti manu-ducunt interdum ad axiomata sublimia 
et nobilia, prsesertim ilia quae ad mundi configurationem perti- 
nent, potius qnam ad naturas et formas simplices." — JVov, Org. 
IL 27. 



And even while Bacon is occupied in setting 
forth his analogies, which rush through the world 
with the boldest combinations, he interrupts him- 
self, remarks anew the use of analogy to science, 
and also the danger to which this sort of combina- 
tion is exposed. This is quite right. It is only 
with the aid of analogy that induction can bring 
real unity into natural science, and discover that 
spiritual connection of things that can never be 
found through a mere description of parts, and is 
at last lost sight of altogether. " It is especially 
to be recommended, and more frequently to be 
suggested, that the diligence of man in the in- 
vestigation and compilation of natural history be 
henceforward entirely changed and converted to 
the contrary of that which has been hitherto in use. 
Hitherto the industry of man has been great and 
curious in noting the variety of things, and in ex- 
plaining the accurate differences of animals, vege- 
tables, and minerals, many of which are rather 
the sport of nature than of any real utility to 
science. Things of this sort are amusing, and 
sometimes not without practical use, but they con- 
tribute little or nothing towards the investigation 
of nature. Our labour, therefore, must be re- 
versed, and directed to the inquiry and notation 
of the resemblances and analogies of things, both 
in the whole and in part. For these analogies 


unite nature, and lay the foundation of science." * 
" It seems of no great utility to recount or know 
the marvellous varieties of flowers, whether of 
iris or tulip, of shells, dogs, or hawks. For things 
of this sort are nothing but the sports and wanton- 
ness of nature, and nearly approach the nature of 
individuals. By means of these we have a minute 
knowledge of things, but scanty and often unpro- 
fitable information with respect to science. Yet 
these are the things of which common natural 
history makes a boast." f Nevertheless, analogies 
must be cautiously and critically sought ; for if, 

* " niud omnino prsecipiendnm est et ssepius monendam, ut 
diligentia hominuni in inqaisitione et congerie Naturalis Histo- 
riae deinceps mutetur plane, et vertatur in eontrarium ejus quod 
nunc in usu est. Magna enim hucusque atque adeo cnriosa fuit 
hominum industria in notanda reram yarietate atque expli- 
candis accuratis animalium, herbarum, et fossilium difFereutiis ; 
quarum plerseque njagis sunt lusns naturae quam serise alicujns 
utilitatis versus scientiae. Faciunt certe hujusmodi res ad 
dclectationem, atque etiam quandoque ad praxin ; Terum ad 
introspiciendam naturam parum aut nihil. Itaque convertenda 
plane est opera ad inquirendas et notandas rerum similitudines 
et analoga, tam in integralibus quam partibos. HIjb enim sunt 
quse naturam nniunt, et constituere scientias incipiunt." — Nov. 
Org. II. 27. 

f " Non mnitmn ad rem faciunt memorare aut nosse florum, 
iris aut tulipse, aut etiam concharum aut canum aut accipitrum 
eximias varietates. Haec enim hujusmodi nil aliud sunt quam 
naturae lusus quidem et lasciyia ; et prope ad naturam indivi- 
duorum accedunt. Itaque habent cognitionem in rebus ipsis 
exquisitam; informationem Tero ad scientias tenuem et fere 
superyacuam. Atque haec sunt tamen ilia in quibus naturalis 

E 2 


on the one hand, the endless varieties of things 
are often a mere sport of nature, so may the 
analogies, discovered by our own combinations, 
easily prove to be a mere sport of the under- 
standing or the imagination. We make analogies 
that are not in nature ; find analogies that in 
truth are none ; fix our attention on casual, non- 
essential points of resemblance, and thus infer 
much from that which says nothing. Sports of 
this sort, to which a speculative and heedless 
imagination or a dreamy intellect willingly aban- 
dons itself, have peopled the region of natural 
science with a multitude of idols. If analogies 
are to be fruitful in results, they must embrace 
essential resemblances ; they must be, as it were, 
learned by listening at the secret workshop of 
nature. Hence Bacon proceeds to insist : " That 
in all these (analogies) a severe and rigorous 
caution be observed, that we only accept, as simi- 
lar and proportionate instances, those that denote 
natural resemblances, — that is to say, real, sub- 
stantial, and immersed in nature ; not merely 
casual and superficial, much less superstitious or 
exceptional, like those always brought forward by 

historia vulgaris sejactat." — Descript, Globi Intellectualis, cap. 
iii. [This citation is added to the note in the original, but 
it accords so well with the language of the text, that I have 
ventured to place it there. — J. O.] 


the writers on natural magic (men of the least 
account, and scarcely worthy of mention in serious 
matters, such as those of which we now treat), 
who with much vanity and folly describe, and some- 
times invent, idle resemblances and sympathies."* 
The analogies themselves, that Bacon cites as 
examples, are of the boldest kind, seeing far and 
anticipating much, — attractive points of view, 
affording a rich and fertile prospect. With a few 
strokes he sketches the great pedigree of things, 
and shows by the most comprehensive combinations 
how everything in the world belongs to one family. 
Never, perhaps, was such a promising view into 
the connection of the universe afforded in the 
form of concise aphorism and cursory example. 
Bacon begins by comparing the mirror with the 
eye ; the ear with the echo. The mirror and the 
eye reflect rays of light ; the ear and the echo 
reflect the undulations of sound. Bacon concludes 
that there is a general analogy between the organs 

* "Verum in his omnino est adhibenda cautio gravis et 
severa, nt accipiantur pro instantiis confonnibus et propor- 
tionatis, illse quse denotant similitudines physicas ; id est, rea- 
les et sabstantiales et immersas in natura, non fortnitas et 
ad speciem; multo minus saperstitiosas aut curiosas, quales 
natnralis magiae scriptores (homines levissimi, et in rebus tam 
seriis quales nunc agimus tix nominandi) ubique ostentant; 
magna cum vanitate et desipientia, inanes similitudines et sym- 
pathias rerum describentes atque etiam quandoque affingentes." 
—Lib. n. 27. 

E 3 


of sense and reflecting bodies ; between organic 
and inorganic nature. The idea of an analogy- 
pervading all natural phenomena is clearly before 
his mind. All the relations and moods of inani- 
mate nature are perceptible, and when they are 
not perceived by us, this is owing to the nature 
of our own bodies, to which so many senses are 
wanting ; however, there are more (or at least as 
many) movements in inanimate than senses In 
animated bodies. Thus, for example, as many 
kinds of painful sensation as are possible to the 
human frame, so many kinds of motion, such as 
squeezing, pricking, contraction, extension, &c., 
are there in inanimate bodies ; only these, through 
the want of vitality, do not feel them."* 

The comparison between organic and inorga- 
nic nature in general is carried by Bacon into 
analogies between details. He remarks similar 
formations between plants and stones, and by 
way of example compares gum with certain gems. 
These, according to him, are exudations and 
filterings {percolationes) of juices, the sap of trees 
exuding In the shape of gum ; the moisture of 
rocks, after the same fashion, as a transparent 
gem. Hence the brightness and clearness of the 
vegetable and mineral formations, both of which 

* These analogies are all to be found in Nov. Org. lib. 

n. 27. 


are, as it were, filtered juices. Thus, among 
animals, the wings of birds are more beautiful 
and more vividly coloured than the hair of beasts, 
because the juices are not so delicately filtered 
through the thick skin as through the quills. In 
the formation of plants Bacon remarks a similar 
structure in the different parts, and in the spirit 
of modern morphology (which arose so long after 
him) calls attention to the fact, that in vegetable 
growth the constituent parts, both above and 
below, spread out towards the circumference. In 
their position, at opposite extremities of the plant. 
Bacon finds the only distinction between the 
branches and the roots. The roots are branches 
working their way downwards into the earth ; 
the branches are roots striving upwards towards 
the air and sun. In the animal kingdom Bacon 
compares the fins of fishes with the feet of qua- 
drupeds, and the feet and wings of birds ; and the 
formation of teeth with that of beaks. 

The structure of the plant he compares with 
that of man, saying that the latter is, as it were, 
a plant inverted {planta inversa). The brain in 
man, whence the nerves take their origin, to 
spread in countless ramifications through the 
entire frame, corresponds to the root in plants. To 
no one were the analogies between man and plant 
more attractive than to Herder, who was never 

E 4 


weary of spinning out and repeating this simile 
with every possible variation. It was a fault 
in him that he used this planta inversa as a 
characteristic of man, which be could interpret 
as a symbol of universal history. Herder's intel- 
lect was made for analogies. Every analogy was 
a theme, on which he could compose a. fantasia, 
and indeed what he called his " Ideas " were 
mere analogies after all. From such points of 
view he derived his theories of the history of 
mankind. His combinations were generally sug- 
gestive, seldom accurate, and he might serve as 
an eminent example to illustrate the genius of 
analogy, with all its aberrations and its blunders. 
To this point especially did Kant direct his 
shafts in his critique of Herder's " Ideas," show- 
ing how frequently his analogies were uncertain, 
and the conclusions drawn from them false. 

Bacon treats the analogies which he introduces 
into natural science with great tact; he does 
not plaif with them, but contents himself with 
noting the point of resemblance, and explaining 
it in a few words ; after which he hastens on to 
new comparisons. From definite instances he 
infers universal analogies, which ultimately com- 
prehend all nature, and these axioms he confirms 
anew by fresh definite instances, — by special com- 
parisons between minerals and plants, plants and 


animals, &c. Beginning with individual instances, 
he at last directs his glance to the relations of 
the whole world, and already anticipating the 
speculative geography of our own time, observes 
the analogies in the formation of the quarters 
of the globe. Thus he is struck by the re- 
semblance between Africa and South America, 
both of which extend over the Southern Hemi- 
sphere, while there is a further analogy between 
the isthmus and promontory of both. " This is 
no mere accident " (non temere accidit), he signifi- 
cantly adds. He embraces both the Old and the 
New World in one comparative view, and remarks 
that these two huge masses of land become broad 
as they approach the north, narrow and pointed 
as they approach the south. There is something 
great and striking in the very fact of these re- 
marks; in the fact that here also Bacon has 
discovered an analogy, which, without difficulty, 
can be followed into its details. In a few 
short hints, given in a cursory manner, he has 
recognised a most interesting point in geogra- 
phical science, namely, the importance to be 
attached to the variations of the line of coast. 
By way of conclusion. Bacon essays his compa- 
rative glance on arts and sciences, and here also 
seeks for analogies. He takes for his examples 
rhetoric and music, mathematics and logic ; find- 


ing in the former similar tropes, in the latter 
similar forms of reasoning. To the rhetorical 
figure called prater expectationem, the musical 
decUnatio cadentia perfectly corresponds. In ma- 
thematics there is the axiom that " things equal 
to the same are equal to one another." To this 
there is a complete analogy in the logical form of 
syllogism, which connects two terms by means of 
a third. 

We do not pronounce a judgment on the 
scientific value and scope of all these analogies 
which Bacon uses as examples. To us they are 
important for the assistance they afford us, both 
by their subject-matter, and by the manner of 
their introduction, in arriving at a right know- 
ledge of Bacon himself. They show a mind of 
the most comprehensive vision, with a corre- 
sponding acuteness in observing combinations. 
Bacon does not use an analogy as an object, but 
as an instrument in aid of his method. Of this 
instrument he makes lavish use, according to the 
dictates of his own inclination and abundant 
power ; he extends his grasp beyond the limits of 
his method, and, in spite of all his caution, there 
is imminent danger that he will not only abandon 
this method, but act in direct opposition to it; for, 
in truth, every analogy is an antieipatio mentis. 
The very design of Bacon's analogies shows that 


he sought more than can be afforded by experience. 
He sought by this road what he could not discover 
by that of induction alone, namely, the unity of 
nature as manifested in the affinity of all things, 
or the harmony of the universe. Here we find 
Bacon in alliance with Leibnitz and his fol- 
lowers, as we found him before with Spinoza 
and Descartes. It will be but fair if we take 
that comparative view of Bacon himself which he 
took of all nature, pointing out his own mental 
affinities, his own analogies, and aiding our ob- 
servation by Ms "parallel instances," which do 
nothing to diminish his originality, but throw 
a light on his comprehensive mind. What was 
fundamental tendency in Leibnitz was supple- 
mentary in Bacon, so that the axiom of the for- 
mer was the auxiliary expedient of the latter. 
Leibnitz as much needed induction as Bacon 
needed analogy. 

The mind of Bacon extends further than his 
method ; but in this very circumstance lies his 
epoch-making power, and it imposes upon us the 
necessity of comprehending his antagonism to 
antiquity and the philosophy derived from it. 
Thus we shall place ourselves in Bacon's own 
mental sphere and picture to ourselves that an- 
tagonism, just as Bacon himself conceived it. 




The result of the Baconian philosophy, and the 
logical order of its ideas, may be thus stated in 
its principal features : — 

1. Science should serve man by being use- 
ful to him. Its use consists in inventions ; the 
object of which is the dominion of the human 

2. Science can only become inventive through 
an exact knowledge of things, and this is only 
to be obtained by an interpretation of nature. 

3. A correct interpretation of nature is only 
possible through pure and methodical experience. 
Experience is pure when it does not judge ac- 
cording to " idols " and human analogies, when 
it does not anthropomorphise things, when it 
is mere experimentalising perception. Expe- 
rience is methodical as true induction. Induction 
is true when, by an accurate and critical com- 
parison, it infers laws from a number of particular 
instances. Comparison is critical when it opposes 


negative to positive instances. Moreover, the 
process of inductive reasoning is accelerated by 
the investigation of prerogative instances. Ex- 
perience, thus disciplined, avoids from first to last 
all uncertain and premature hypotheses. 

Thus Bacon sets up his principle and himself 
in opposition to the past. He sees that his own 
principles comprise all the conditions requisite for 
a thorough renovation of science, such as no one 
before him had the courage or the vigour to 
effect ; he feels that he is himself the bearer of 
the renovating spirit, — the scientific reformer, 
" No one," he says, " has as yet been found en- 
dowed with sufficient firmness and vigour to re- 
solve upon and undertake the thorough abolition 
of common theories and notions, and the fresh 
application of the intellect, thus cleared and 
rendered impartial, to the study of particulars. 
Hence human reason, such as we have it now, is 
a mere farrago and crude mass made up of much 
credulity, much accident, and, withal, of those 
puerile notions which are imbibed early in life. 
But if some one of mature age, sound senses, and 
a disabused mind, should apply himself anew to 
experience and the study of particulars, we might 
have better hope of him."* " Some hope might, 

* " Nemo adhuc tanta mentis constantia etrigore inventus est, 
ut dicaverit et sibi imposuerit theorias et notiones communes 


we think, be afforded by my own example ; and 
we do not say this for the sake of boasting, but 
because it may be useful. If any feel a want of 
confidence, let them look at me, — a man who, 
among his contemporaries, has been most en- 
gaged in public affairs, who is of somewhat infirm 
health (which of itself occasions great loss of 
time), and who, in this matter, is assuredly the 
first explorer, neither following in the steps of 
another, nor communicating his own thoughts to 
a single individual ; but who, nevertheless, having 
once firmly entered upon the right way, and 
submitted his mind to things, has (I think) made 
some advance."* 

If we now compare Bacon's philosophy with 

penitus abolere, et intellectum abrasum et sequum ad particnlaria 
de integro applicare, Itaque ratio ilia humana quam habemus, 
ex multa fide et multo etiam casu, nee non ex puerilibus quas 
primo hausimus notionibus, farrago qusedam est et congeries. 
Quod si quis setate matura et sensibus integris et mente repur- 
gata se ad experientiam et ad particularia de integro applicet, 
de eo melius sperandum est." — Nov. Org. I. 97. 

* "Etiam nonnihil hominibus spei fieri posse putamus ab 
exemplo nostro proprio; neque jactantise causa hoc dicimus sed 
quod utile dictu sit. Si qui diffidant, me videant, hominem inter 
homines setatis mece civilibus negotiis occupatissimum, nee firma 
admodum valetudine (quod magnum habet temporis dispen- 
dium), atque in hac re plane protopirum, et vestigia nullius 
secutum, neque hsec ipsa cum uUo mortalium communicantem, 
et tamen veram Tiam constanter ingressum et ingenium rebus 
submittentem, haec ipsa aliquatenus (ut existimamus) proyexisse.'' 
— Nov. Org. I. 113. 


that which preceded it, we find, in all those points 
that bear upon the reformation of science, a de- 
cided antagonism. Bacon gives science another 
purpose, another foundation, another tendency. 

I. The Peacticai, End. 


Bacon immediately directs science to the use 
of mankind, and to invention as the agent for 
promoting it ; he would make science practical 
and generally useful, and from this point of 
view opposes the scientific character previously 
recognised, which was theoretic and only acces- 
sible to the few. From an affair of the schools, 
which it had hitherto been. Bacon would make of 
science an affair of life, not merely because it 
suited his inclination so to do, but as a necessary 
consequence of his principles. Bacon's plan of 
renovation stands in an opposition to the an- 
tique, similar to that of the Kantian philosophy. 
Kant would make philosophy critical; Bacon 
would make it practical. Preceding systems 
appear uncritical to Kant, unpractical to Bacon. 
In the summary judgment which both, from 
opposite points of view, pronounce upon their 
predecessors, both are alike incapable of doing 


justice in any particular to the philosophical 
culture of the past. They both agree that all 
preceding philosophy has been mere fruitless spe- 
culation, that the systems of the past fall into the 
opposite extremes of dogmatism and scepticism, 
and thus reciprocally annul each other's results. 
To Kant the representatives of dogmatic and 
sceptical philosophy were Wolf and Hume; to 
Bacon they were the dogmatic Aristotelians and 
the academical sceptics, of whom he said that the 
former came to false and rash conclusions, the 
latter to none at all.* To embrace both these 
epochs of modern philosophy in one common 
expression, we may assert that Bacon and Kant, 
convinced of the fruitlessness of all preceding 
speculation, both desired to render philosophy 
fruitful, and therefore practical. Bacon directed 
it to a practical knowledge of nature, Kant to 
a practical knowledge of self. The ripest fruit 
of the Baconian philosophy is invention, so far as 
it conduces to the dominion of man ; that of the 
Kantian is morality as based upon human free- 
dom and autonomy. 

Bacon is never weary of reproaching the past 
with unfruitfulness, as a necessary consequence 
of theoretical philosophy. People fancy that they 
know a great deal, through this traditional system; 

* Compare Nov. Org. 1. 67. 


nevertheless they make no advance, but remain 
stationary and inactive. The belief in their wealth 
is the cause of their poverty.* " That philosophy, 
■which we have chiefly derived from the Greeks, 
appears to be, as it were, the childhood of science, 
being fertile in controversy, barren of effect. 
Moreover, if sciences of this sort had not been a 
dead letter, it seems highly improbable that they 
would have remained, as they have, almost im- 
movable on their ancient footing without acquiring 
growth worthy of the human race; and this to such 
an extent that frequently not only does an assertion 
remain an assertion, but even a question remains 
a question, and instead of being solved by discus- 
sion is fixed and maintained, so that the whole 
tradition and succession of instruction exhibits as 
on a stage the characters of master and scholar, but 
not that of the inventor, or of him who has added 
anything excellent to inventions. In mechanical 
arts we find that the contrary is the case. These, 
as if they partook of some vivifying air, are daily 
increased and brought to perfection. On the 
contrary, philosophy and the intellectual sciences, 
like statues, are adored and celebrated like sta- 
tues, but are not moved from the spot whereon 
they stand." t 

* Opinio copite = Causa inopiiE. — Cogit. Visa. 
f "Et de utilitate aperte dicendmn est, sapientiam istam 


II. The Phtsicax Foundation. 

Bacon, having decided that invention is the 
end of science, takes physics as its foundation. 
Thus he is in direct opposition to the philosophies 
of every preceding age ; to scholasticism, which, 
at bottom, was nothing but theology, to the 
Eoman philosophy, which was chiefly occupied 
with ethics, and to the GrEeco- classic, which 
based physics upon metaphysics. Bacon first 
shows that philosophy has hitherto been unfruit- 
ful ; then he investigates the causes of this sci- 
entific poverty. The first of these causes he finds 
in the fact that of the whole period recorded in 
the history of mankind an extremely small portion 

quam a Graecis potissimnm hausimus pueritiam quandam 
scientias videri. . . . ControTersiarum enim ferax, operum 
effcEta est. . . . Praeterca, si hujusmodi scientisB plane res 
mortusE non assent, id minime videtur eventurum fuisse quod per 
multa jam saecula usu venit, ut illse suis immotsB fere liEereant 
vestigiis, nee incrementa genere humano digna sumaut : eo 
usque, ut saepenumero non solum assertio maneat assertio sed 
etiam qussstio maneat qu^stio, et per disputationes non solyatur 
sod figatur et alatur, omnisque traditio et snecessio discipli- 
narum repra3sentet et exhibeat personas magistri et auditoris, 
non inventoris et ejus qui inventis aliquid eximium adjiciat. In 
artibus autem mechanicis contrarium evenire videmus ; qu», ac 
si aurae cujusdam vitalis forent participes, quotidie crescunt et 
perficiuutur. . -. . PMlosophia contra et sciential intellec- 
tuales, statuarum more, adorantur et celebrantur, sed non pro- 
moventm-."— Prsef. Inst. Magna. 


has been devoted to science, and the second 
in the fact that the smallest portion even of 
scientific labour has been bestowed upon the 
natural sciences. " Of the five and twenty cen- 
turies, which nearly comprise all the memory and 
learning of man, scarcely six can be selected and 
set apart as fertile in science and favourable to its 
advancement. For deserts and wildernesses are 
no less in times than in countries, and we can 
rightly enumerate no more than three revolutions 
and epochs of learning, namely, first the Greek ; 
secondly, the Roman ; and lastly, our own (that 
is to say, the learning of the Western nations of 
Europe) ; and to each of these scarcely two cen- 
turies can be justly assigned. Even in those 
ages, in which men's wit and literature flourished 
greatly, or even moderately, the smallest part of 
human labour was bestowed upon Natural Phi- 
losophy, which ought nevertheless to be regarded 
as the great mother of all the sciences. For aU 
the arts and sciences torn from this root may 
perhaps be polished and fitted for use, but they 
will scarcely grow. It is well known that after 
the Christian religion had been adopted and had 
reached maturity, by far the greater number of 
excellent wits devoted themselves to theology; 
that to this science the highest rewards were 
offered, and all means of assistance were abun- 

L 2 


dantly supplied; and that thus the study of 
theology almost entirely occupied that third period 
which has been given as that of the Western 
Europeans ; the rather because about the same time 
when literature began to flourish, religious contro- 
versies also began to bud forth. In the preceding 
age, during that second or Koman period, the me- 
ditation and labour of philosophers were chiefly 
occupied and consumed by moral philosophy, 
which held the place of theology among the 
heathens. Moreover, in those times the greatest 
minds applied themselves as much as possible to 
civil affairs, on account of the magnitude of the 
Roman Empire, which required the labour of 
many men. But that age, during which Natural 
Philosophy appeared to flourish chiefly among 
the Greeks, was exceedingly short, since, in the 
more ancient times, the seven wise men, as they 
were called, all (with the exception of Thales) 
devoted themselves to Moral Philosophy and 
Politics ; and in the times succeeding, after So- 
crates had brought down philosophy from heaven 
to earth, moral philosophy became still more 
prevalent, and diverted the minds of men from 
natural science. In the meanwhile let no one 
expect great progress in the sciences (especially 
their operative part) unless Natural Philosophy 
be applied to particular sciences, and particular 


sciences again referred to Natural Philosophy. 
Hence it arises that astronomy, optics, music, 
many mechanical arts, medicine itself (and what 
seems more wonderful) moral and political phi- 
losophy, have no depth, but only glide over the 
surface and variety of things ; because these 
sciences, having been once partitioned out and 
established, are no longer nourished by Natural 
Philosophy. Thus, there is little cause for 
wonder that the sciences do not grow, when they 
are separated from their roots."* 

♦ " Ex viginti quinque annorum centuriis, in quibus memoria 
et doctrina homiaom. fere versatur, rix sex centurue seponi et 
excerpi possunt, quae scientiaram feraces earumve proventui 
utiles fuerunt. Sunt enim non minus temporam quam regionum 
eremi et vastitates. Tres enim tantum doctrinarum revolutiones 
et periodi recte numerari possunt: una, apud Graecos ; altera, 
apud Romanos ; nltima, apud nos, occidentales scilicet Europse 
nationes: quibus singulis yix duse centuriae annorum merito 
attribui possunt. . . . Per illas ipsas states quibus hominum 
ingenia et literae maxime vel etiam mediocriter floruerint, 
Naturalis Philosophia minimam partem humanae operee sortita 
sit. Atque hsec ipsa nihilominus pro magna scientiarum matre 
haberi debet. Omnes enim artes et scientiae ab hac stirpe revulsse, 
poliuntur fortasse et in usum effinguntur, sed nil admodum 
crescunt. At manifestum est, postquam Christiana fides recepta 
fuisset et adolevisset, longe maximam ingeniorum prasstantis- 
simorum partem ad Theologiam se contulisse ; atque huic rei et 
amplissima prsemia proposita, et omnis generis adjumenta co- 
piosissime subministrata fuisse: atque hoc Thelogise studium 
prsecipue occupasse tertiam illam partem sive periodum temporis 
apud nos Europasos occidentales ; eo magis, quod sub idem fere 
tempus et literae florere et controversiae circa religionem pul- 
I. 3 


III. The Antifoemal Tendenct. 

That he may arrive at a proper explanation of 
nature. Bacon rejects all idols, including final 
causes, generic notions and forms, as human 
analogies that do not belong to the things them- 
selves. To final he opposes efficient causes; 
to generic notions, individual things ; to abstract 

lulare coeperint. At sevo snperiori, durante periodo ilia secunda 
apud Eomanos, potissimse philosophorum meditationes et indus- 
trias in Morali Philosophia (quae Ethnicis vice Theologise erat) 
occupatte et consumptse fuerunt: etiam summa ingenia iUis 
temporibus ut plnrimum ad res civUes se applicuerunt, propter 
magnitudinem imperii Komani, quod plurimorum hominum 
opera indigebat. At ilia setas, qua Natui-alis Philosophia 
apud Grajcos maxime florere visa est, particnla fuit temporis 
minime diuturna ; cum et antiquioribus temporibus septem lUi 
qui sapientes nominabantur, omnes (prseter Thaletem) ad 
Moralem Philosophiam et civilia se applicuerint j et posterio- 
ribus temporibus postquam Socrates philosophiam de coelo in 
terras deduxisset, adhuc magis invaluerit Moralis Philosophia, 
et ingenia hominum a Natural! averterit. . . . Interim nemo 
expectet magnum progressum in scientiis (prsesertim in parte 
eanim operativa), nisi Philosophia Natnralis ad sciencias parti- 
culares producta fuerit, et scientise particulares rursus ad Natu- 
ralem Philosophiam reductse. Hinc enim fit, ut astrouomia, 
optica, musica, plurimse artes mechanicse, atque ipsa medicina, 
atque (quod quis magis miretur) philosophia moralis et ciTilis, 
et scientise logicse, nil fere habeant altitudinis in proiundo ; sed 
per superficiem et rarietatem rerum tantum labantur : quia 
postquam particulares istse scientiaB dispertitse et constitutse 
• fuerint, a Philosophia Naturali non amplius alantur. . . . 
Itaque minime mirum est si scientice non crescant, cum a radi- 
cibus suis sint separate." — Nov. Org. I. 78, 79, 80. i 


forms, material qualities; and thus he denies 
everything that would render an interpretation of 
natural, teleological, idealistic, or, in a word, 
abstract We may say, to combine these several 
oppositions in one single expression, that he em- 
ployed his whole weight to counterbalance that 
formal philosophy that had, down to his own time, 
so vastly preponderated, whether we consider the 
extent or the duration of its reign. Under this 
formal philosophy, which he regards as his an- 
tagonist. Bacon comprises Aristotelian Scholas- 
ticism, Platonic Aristotelism, Pythagorean Pla- 
tonism. In all these systems, that doctrine of 
final causes, that is regarded by Bacon as an 
"Idolon Tribus," predominates as the leading idea. 
The creations of formal philosophy are so many 
historical developments of this one fallacy. They 
are the idols that in the field of philosophy take 
possession of the human mind ; that is to say, 
they are, in the eyes of Bacon, " Idola Theatri."* 
Such, accurately expressed, are the points of 
opposition that give an historical character to the 
Baconian philosophy. To theoretic it opposes 
practical philosophy as an instrument of useful 
cultivation ; to metaphysics and theology, which 
have hitherto constituted the basis of science, it 

' The consideration of the " Idola Theatri " occupies Apho- 
, risms 61 — 68 of JVov. Org. lib. I. 



opposes physics; to formal it opposes material 
philosophy ; to common experience it opposes 
scientific experience. 

1. bacon's antagonism to akistotle. 
All these points of opposition were, as Bacon 
thought, concentrated in Aristotle, who, to his 
time, had held a dictatorship in the region of 
philosophy. Aristotle had canonised theory as 
the highest aspiration of the mind ; rendering us 
similar to the gods. He had systematically ela- 
torated metaphysics, and upon this foundation 
had based his interpretation of nature. He was 
the real scientific representative of formal philo- 
sophy, and the creator of its logic ; he regarded 
physics from the teleological point of yIcw, after 
establishing that point of view metaphysically ; 
he brought the whole formal philosophy of the 
Greeks into a system, by which the middle ages 
Avere governed. Lastly, in Bacon's eyes, that un- 
methodical and uncritical kind of experience that 
had hitherto prevailed was to be laid to the charge 
of Aristotle, for he brought induction into philo- 
sophy without sifting It critically, or arranging it 
in logical order. By the side of a fruitless logic 
Aristotle had upheld an illogical experience. 
What great end, then, could be attained by the 
philosophy that followed him, provided as it 


wa8 with such inefficient weapons? Thus, in 
Bacon's eyes, all the " Idola Theatri" that occupy 
the field of science are combined under the name 
of Aristotle. To this point, therefore, he directs 
all the attacks which he intends for antiquity in 
general. The name of Aristotle is, as it were, 
the extremity of a rod that must conduct all the 
lightnings darted by Bacon against the earlier phi- 
losophy. That Bacon may not appear unjust to 
Aristotle, we must consider the name of the 
latter, when used by the former, as a nomen appe- 
lativum rather than a nomen proprium. How 
far he apprehended the veritable Aristotle we 
shall not pause to inquire, for our inquiry here is 
not what Aristotle really was, but what he ap- 
peared in the eyes of Bacon, who attacked in him 
the theorist, the metaphysician, the formalist, and 
the empirist — making of himself an anti- Aristotle 

To the Aristotelian " Organon," Bacon, in his 
own " Organum," offers a double opposition. He 
combats the Aristotelian logic with experience, 
and the Aristotelian experience (which he con- 
siders the same as the common) with methodical 
experience. To syllogism he opposes induction ; 
to Aristotelian Induction true induction. His 
tactics in both cases are the same. He would 
prove that both syllogism and Aristotelian expe- 


rience are, with respect to physics, equally un- 
practical and unfruitful. 


is unfruitful, inasmuch as it cannot discover any- 
thing new, cannot find anything unknown, but 
can only exhibit, arranged in a consequent order, 
notions that are already familiar. It is a mere 
form of thought, that presupposes a given mate- 
rial to fill it up. But the aim of genuine science 
is the discovery of a material, not the mere arrange- 
ment of that which has already been given or 
handed down. From the known, science would 
infer the unknown. Thus syllogism, which only 
arranges what is known, is an useless instrument in 
the hand of science ; that is, of no assistance to her 
in her investigations, and does not advance her 
interests in the slightest degree. From syllogistic 
logic no science can be derived, since, as Bacon 
observes, it is of no service in the discovery of 
scientific truth.* Of what does syllogism consist ? 
Of judgments or premises. And of what do these 
consist ? Of words. But words are mere symbols 
of notions that are in themselves obscure and 

* " Sicnt scientiaj quae nunc habentur inutiles sunt ad inveu- 
tionem operum ; ita et logica quae nunc habetur inutilis est ad 
inventionem scientiamm." — Nov. Org. 1. 11. 


abstract representations of things, made and taken 
upon trust without due investigation, and circu- 
lated in the same fashion. Thus, if we reduce 
syllogism to its ultimate elements, we find that it 
rests upon obscure and uncertain notions.* These 
are turned into current coin by Formal logic, and 
as such are circulated.. Thus, this kind of logic, 
far from conducing to the investigation of truth, 
rather serves to establish error ; so that it is not 
merely useless, but even injurious. f Syllogistic 
science lives on words alone; encourages not 
action, but talking ; rendering men not inventive, 
but loquacious, and mere disputation leads to 
nothing. The art of words does not promote the 
" regnum hominisP but merely the " munus pro- 

Experience proceeds differently from this kind 
of logic, proving not by words, but by deeds ; 
demonstrating ad oculos, experimentalising instead 
of talking. With the aid of an instrument, it 

* "Syllogismns ex propositionibus constat, propositiones ex 
verbis, verba notionum tesserae sunt. Itaque si notiones ipsae 
(id quod basis rei est) confusse sint et temere a rebus abs- 
tract£e, nihil in iis qu£e superstruuntur est firmitudinis." — Nm. 
Org. I. 14. \ 

f " Logica quae in usu est ad errores (qui in notionibus vul- 
garibus fnndantur) stabuiendos et figendos valet, potius quam 
ad inquisitionem veritatis ; ut magis damnosa sit quam utilis," 
—Nov. Org. L 12. 


rectifies our sensuous perception, and fits it for the 
observation of things. "We must flj to art," 
says Bacon, " and must look to demonstration that 
is governed by art. As for syllogism, which is 
regarded by Aristotle as an oracle, sentence may 
be passed on it in a few words. It is, doubtless, 
useful to the understanding, as a sort of helping 
hand, in those sciences that are founded on human 
opinions, as the moral and political, but it is 
unequal and incompetent to the subtlety and 
obscurity of natural things. Thus, induction 
remains our last and only aid in the acquisition 
of real knowledge. Nor do we, without cause, 
rest our hopes upon it, since it is able to 
collect laborious works and the faithful suffrages 
of things, and present them to the intellect."* 
Therefore away with syllogism ; let us have 

* " (Cogitavit) sequi igitur ut ad artem confugiendum, et de 
demonstratione quae per artem regitar, videndum sit. Atqae 
de syllogismo qui Aristoteli oraculi loco est, paucis sententiam 
claudendam. Kem esse nimirum in doctrinis quse in opinionibus 
hominum positse sunt, veluti moralibus et politicis, utilem et 
intellectui manum quandam auxiliarem ; reram vero naturalium 
subtilitati et obsouritati imparem et incompetentem. Eestare 
inductionem, tanquam ultimum et unieum rebus subsidium et 
perfiigium ; neque immerito in ea spes sitas esse, ut quse opera 
laboriosa et fida rerum suffragia coUigere, et ad intellectum per- 
ferre possit." — Cogit. et Visa. 



Notj however, Aristotelian experience, for this 
is just as sterile as syllogism, and no less misses 
the ultimate object of aU scientific research. In a 
natural state of things, logic ought to discover 
truths, and experience invent works ; the former 
procuring for us new knowledge, the latter 
aiding us to new inventions. But the Aris- 
totelian logic contributes nothing " ad inventionem 
scientiarum f the Aristotelian experience contri- 
butes nothing "ad inventionem operum" Both 
are incapable of invention, and therefore both are 
useless. The Aristotelian experience is sterile 
from a double cause ; that is to say, it is either a 
mere description involving an expanse of matter 
without form (just as the syllogism was an empty 
form without matter), or "a simple and childish 
kind of induction, that proceeds by enumeration 
alone, and therefore arrives not at necessary, but 
at uncertain conclusions."* Hence it does not 
lead to any knowledge of laws, to any interpreta- 
tion of nature, to any invention, but remains dry 
and sterile. Or, on the other hand, this Aristo- 

* "Formam ejusdem (indnctionis) meditati sunt admodura 
simplicem et plane puerilem quae per enumerationem tantum 
procedat, atque propterea precario non necessario eoncludat." — 
Cog. et Visa. 


telian experience at once infers the most general 
laws from the consideration of a few particular 
cases, without regarding the negative instances, — 
without extending its path by a careful com- 
parison of various cases, or shortening it by the 
discovery of prerogative instances. It does not 
discover, but merely abstracts lawd, and is 
thus unmethodical and uncritical, — not investi- 
gating, but anticipating nature. From single 
facts to general laws it proceeds as if by flight, 
not step by step. Its fault is an impatience of 
delay, which, not allowing any pause to the work 
of experience, forces it to fly upwards, instead of 
climbing ; so that it misses the goal that it is in 
such a hurry to reach. It grasps immediately at 
the highest laws, — determines the primary before 
it has ascertained the intermediate causes, — 
hoping by syllogistic art to supply the links 
wanting in the chain of existence.* An expe- 
rience of this kind can lead to no experiment 
properly called, — to no invention; it is therefore 
as sterile as the syllogism. 

* The whole of the above passage is an expansion of the 
following : — " Morse impatientes et compendia viarum undique 
lustrantes, et qu^dam in certe ponere, circa quse, tanquam 
cii'ca polos, disputationes verterentur, properantes, earn (induc- 
tionem) tantum ad generalia scientiarum principia adhibuerunt, 
media per syllogismorum derivationes expedire temere sperantes." 
— Cog. et Visa. — J. 0. 


In the place of this kind of experience, Bacon 
puts the inventive, which proceeds by another path, 
" There are, and can be," he says, " only two 
ways for the investigation and discovery of truth. 
One flies from the senses and particulars to the 
most general axioms, and from these principles, 
and their infallible truth, determines and discovers 
intermediate axioms. And this is the way now 
in use. The other constructs axioms from the 
senses and particulars, by ascending continually 
and gradually, so as to reach the most general 
axioms last of all. This is the true way, but is 
yet untried."* The right way from the par- 
ticular phenomena to the highest laws of 
nature is by a series of steps, and this series 
constitutes the characteristic difference between 
the Baconian experience and that which had pre- 
viously prevailed. " The human understanding 
must not jump and fly from particulars to remote 
and most general axioms (such as the so-called 
principles of acts and things), and then, by the infal- 

* " Dnse Tiaj sunt, atque esse possunt, ad inquirendam et in- 
Teniendam veritatem. Altera a sensn et particularibns adyolat 
ad axiomata maxime generalia, atque ex iis principiis eorumque 
immota veritate judicat et invenit axiomata media ; atque hiec 
via in usu est ; altera a sensu et particularibus exeitat axiomata, 
ascendendo continenter et gradatim, ut ultimo loco perveniatur 
ad maxime generalia ; quae via vera est, sed intentata." — Nov. 
Org. 1. 19. 


lible truth of these, test and make out the inter- 
mediate axioms. This, however, has hitherto been 
done from the natural bent of the understanding, 
which has, moreover, been trained and accustomed 
to this course by the syllogistic form of demon- 
stration. But we can then only hope well for 
science, when the ascent shall be made by a true 
scale, and successive steps, without gap or inter- 
ruption, first from particulars to minor axioms, 
then to the intermediate (one above the other), 
and finally to the most general. For the lowest 
axioms do not much differ from bare experience ; 
but those which are now deemed the highest and 
most general are notional and abstract, with 
nothing solid about them. But the intermediate 
are those true, solid, and living axioms, upon 
which depend the affairs and fortunes of mankind. 
Hence we must not add wings, but rather lead and 
weights to the human understanding, in order to 
prevent all jumping .and flying."* 

* " Neque tamen pennittendum est, ut intellectus a particulari- 
hns ad axiomata remota et quasi generalissima (qualia sunt 
principia, quse Tocant, artium et rerum) saliat et volet ; et ad 
eorum immotam veritatem axiomata media probet et expediat : 
quod adhue factum est, prono ad hoc impetu naturali intellectus, 
atque etiam ad hoc ipsnm, per demonstrationcs quse fiunt per 
sjUogismum, jampridem edocto et assuefacto. Sed de scientiis 
turn demum bene sperandum est, quando per scalam veram, et 
per gradus continues et non intermissos aut hiulcos, a parti- 
cularibus ascendetur ad axiomata minora, et deinde ad media, 


Syllogism aito Experience. 

These two instruments of the Aristotelian 
philosophy stand, as Bacon remarks, in a reci- 
procal relation; the one supporting, and acting 
as a supplement to the other. Syllogistic art 
requires the lower kind of experience, to give a 
material upon which it may imprint its logical 
form. Experience requires syllogism, to find 
intermediate links between phenomena and uni- 
versal laws. Without experience, syllogism would 
be devoid of life and motion ; without syllogistic 
art, experience would be aphoristic, and unable 
even to assume the appearance of systematic 

The mind that is desirous of invention has 
nothing to expect from either. Its mode of 
knowledge is logical experience, or inventive logic. 
Logical experience is distinguished, as experience, 
from formal logic, which has nothing to do with 
experience ; and, as logic, from the ordinary expe - 

alia aliis superiora, et postremo demum ad generalissima. 
axiomata infima non multum ab experientia nuda discrepant. 
Suprema Tero ilia et generalissima (quae habentur) notionalia 
sunt et abstracta, et nil babent solidi. At media sunt axiomata 
ilia vera et solida et viva, in quibus bumanse res et fortunse sitas 

sunt Itaque hominum intellectui non plumse addendee, 

sed plumbum potius et pondera ; ut cohibeant omnem saltum 
et volatum. "-^iVow. Org. I. 104. 



rience, in which there is nothing logical. " We 
must apply to ourselves," says Bacon, " the joke 
of him who said that wine-drinkers and water- 
drinkers cannot think alike ; especially as it hits 
the point so well. Now other men, both ancient 
and modern, have drunk in science, a crude liquor, 
like water, which has either flowed spontaneously 
out of the understanding, or has been drawn up 
by dialectics, as by a wheel from a well. But 
we drink and pledge others with a liquor made 
from an infinite number of grapes, and those well 
ripened, plucked, and collected in picked clusters, 
then crushed in the winepress, and at last purified 
and clarified in a vessel. Therefore it is not 
wonderful that we do not agree with others." * 

* " Itaque dicendum de nobis ipsis quod ille per jocum dixit, 
prsEsertim cum tarn bene rem secet : fieri non potest ut idem 
sentiant, qui aquam et qui vinum bibant. At eseteri homines, 
tam veteres quam novi, liquorera biberunt crudum in soientiis, 
tanquam aquam vel sponte ex intelleotu manantem, Tel per 
dialecticam, tanquam per rotas ex puteo haustam. At nos 
liquorem bibimus et propinamus ex iniinitis confectam uvis, 
iisque maturis et tempestivis, et per racemos quosdam coUectis ac 
decerptis, et subinde in toreulari pressis, ac postremo in vase re- 
purgatis et clarificatis. Itaque nil mirum si nobis cum aliis non 
conveniat." — Nov. Org.J. 123. By " aquam sponte ex intellectn 
manantem,'' Bacon manifestly means syllogism ; by " aquam 
per rotas ex puteo, haustam," that kind of experience that from 
a few facts leaps at once to the most general axioms. In the 
parallel passage of " Cogitata et "Visa," he expresses the same 
thought by the words, " Industria quadam haustum (liquorem)." 
— Author^s Note. 



Within the limits of formal philosophy, to which 
as a whole he is diametrically opposed. Bacon, 
nevertheless, makes a remarkable distinction be- 
tween Aristotle and Plato. Of the two, Plato 
appears to him as belonging to the higher order 
of mind, as the greater genius. The systems of 
these philosophical chiefs of classical antiquity 
are, indeed, both equally removed from a true 
semblance of nature ; the minds of both are 
prepossessed by "idols," but those of Plato are 
as poetical as those of Aristotle are sophistical.* 
Little as Bacon participates in the errors of Plato, 
they appear to him more amiable and natural 
than those of the other. The imagination, when 
it errs, is more readily pardoned than the under- 
standing. Bacon's philosophical views were far 
removed from anything like poetry, but he had 
a lively imagination, and a ready susceptibility 
for the charms of poetry ; and this side of his 
character was attracted by the poetical Plato. 
Indeed, this element of poetry in Bacon, which is 
displayed not only in his preference for Plato, but 
not unfrequently influences his style, and guides 

* " Platonem, tam prope ad poetae, quam ilium (Aristotelem), 
ad sophistse partes accedere." — Cogitata et Visa. 

M 2 


him in the choice of his examples, proves anew 
the truth of the felicitous remark once made by 
Humboldt on the subject of Columbus, that a 
poetical imagination expresses itself in every great 
specimen of human character.* 

Baqon draws a distinction between Plato and 
Aristotle, precisely the same as that which, by 
many of the present day, is drawn between Schel- 
ling and Hegel, In opposition to both of them, 
he puts correct investigation, which, he asserts, 
Plato has spoiled by imagination, Aristotle by 
dialectics. The great example of sophistical phi- 
losophy, according to Bacon, is Aristotle, whoj 
by his dialectics, spoiled natural science. Inas- 
much as he produced a world from categories. 
Thus, Bacon reproaches Aristotle with a resolu- 
tion of all reality into categories ; Plato, with a 
conversion of reality into imaginary forms ; the 
one setting logical abstraction, the other poeti- 
cal images, and both alike setting " idols " in the 
place of things. Plato is mystical and poetical; 
Aristotle, dialectical and sophistical. Thus, in 
his day, did Bacon judge the classical philosophers 
of antiquity ; and, at the present time, the same 
judgment is passed by almost everybody upon 
Schelling and Hegel. We say this without par- 
tiality; our only interest being in the fact that 

* " Ansiohten der Natur," Vol. I. p. 256. 


we maintain, namely, that the judgment passed on 
Schelling and Hegel, at the present day, is not 
only similar, but literally the same as that formerly 
pronounced by Bacon on Plato and Aristotle. It 
is not without reason that many have called atten- 
tion to the affinity between Hegel and Aristotle, 
Schelling and Plato. We may even state a ratio : — 
as the two German idealists are to our own age, so 
are the two Greeks to the age of Bacon. We are 
not speaking here of a distance in point of time, 
but of scientific magnitude. If nearly everybody 
now judges of the two German philosophers, just 
as Bacon judged of kindred spirits among the 
ancient Greeks, we may regard this identity as an 
important sign, showing how near the present age 
has brought itself to the Baconian point of view. 
It bears witness to an affinity between Bacon's 
mode of thought, and that now prevailing. We 
think too highly of Bacon to construe this sign 
unfavourably for the present age. Still, there is one 
thing it does not prove ; namely, that the tendency 
of our own times to pronounce a verdict against 
the last systems of philosophy is at all new or 
original. One thing it does not proclaim (although 
this is presumed by many, who are ignorant of 
history), namely, a new epoch I Much more is 
this turn of thought to be regarded as a mere 
emanation of that broad, intellectual flood that 
u 3 


originated with Bacon. On this account, do we 
examine so carefully, and with such deep interest, 
the great source itself; on this account do we 
strive to exhibit to the present generation, as in a 
clear mirror, the image of Bacon, which it has 
imitated for the most part unconsciously, but, on 
the whole, certainly not without cause. 

The Platonic Idealism. 

Bacon rejects alike the Platonic ideas and the 
Aristotelian categories ; both are to him abstract, 
sterile forms, that explain nothing in nature. 
But the Platonic philosophy regards its Ideas, 
which, in truth, are merely idols, as the divine 
originals of the things themselves. It deifies these 
idols ; and thus, to the realistic thinker, appears 
an apotheosis of error, bribing the understanding 
through the imagination. Such a thinker must 
naturally regard it as a science of logical corrup- 
tion, as a fantastic philosophy. " For the human 
understanding," says Bacon, " is no less exposed 
to the impressions of fancy, than to those of vulgar 
notions. For the disputatious and sophistical 
kind of philosophy ensnares the understanding ; 
while that other fanciful, bombastic, and, as it 
were, poetical sort, rather flatters it. There is in 
man a certain ambition of the intellect, no less 
than of the will, especially among lofty and 


elevated minds. Of this better kind we Lave, 
among the Greeks, a most conspicuous example 
in Pythagoras, though combined with a coarser 
and more burdensome superstition ; but it appears 
more subtle and dangerous in Plato and his school. 
This kind of evil is found also in branches of other 
systems, where it introduces abstract forms, final 
and primary causes, frequently omitting the inter- 
mediate, and the like. Against it, the greatest 
caution must be used ; for the apotheosis of error 
is the greatest of evils, and the worship of folly 
may be regarded as the pestilence of the intellect. 
But in this vanity some of the moderns, with 
consummate recklessness, have indulged to such 
an extent, that they have endeavoured to found 
a natural philosophy on the first book of Genesis, 
the book of Job, and other sacred writings ; thus 
seeking the dead among the living. And this 
folly is the more to be checked and restrained, 
because not only fantastical philosophy, but here- 
tical religion, results from such an absurd mix- 
ture of the divine and human. It is, therefore, 
most wholesome soberly to render unto faith only 
the things that are faith's." * 

* " Hamanus enim intellectus non minns impreseionibus phan- 
tasue est obnoxius, quam impressionibus vulgariam notionum. 
Pugnax enim genus philosophise et Sophisticnm illaqneat intel- 
lectum : at illud alteram phantastlcam et tumidum, et quafi 

H 4 


Aiming at the purity of science. Bacon would, 
above all, preserve its foundation, physics, from 
every heterogeneous admixture. " Natural phi- 
losophy has not yet been found in a pure state, 
but corrupt and infected: — in the school of Ari- 
stotle, by logic ; in the school of Plato, by natural 
theology; in the second school of Plato (that of 
Proclus and others), by mathematics, vrhich ought 
to limit natural philosophy, not to generate or 
create it. But from a pure and unmixed natural 
philosophy better results are to be hoped." * 

Poeticum, magis blanditur intellectni. Inest enim homini quae- 
dam intellectus ambitio, nou minor quam voluntatis ; prsesertim 
in ingeniis altis et elevatis. Hujus autem generis exemplum 
inter Grsecos illucescit, prsecipue in Pythagora, sed cum super- 
stitione magis erassa et onerosa conjunctum ; at periculosius et 
subtilius in Platone, atque ejus schola. Invenitur etiam hoe 
genus mali in partibus philosopbiarumreliquarura, introducendo 
formas abstractas, et causas finales, et cansas primas ; omittendo 
S£epissime medias, et hujusmodi. Huic autem rei summa adhi- 
benda est eautio. Pessima enim res est erronim Apotheosis, et 
pro peste intellectus habenda est, si ranis accedat veneratio. 
Huic autem vanitati nonnuUi exmodemis summa levitate ita in- 
dulserunt, ut in primo capitulo Geneseos et in libro Job et aUis 
scripturis sacris, philosophiam naturalem fundare conati sint; 
inter viva quserentes mortua. Tantoque magis hsec vauitas in- 
hibenda venit et coereenda, quia ex divinorum et humanorum 
malesana admistione non solum educitur philosophia phantastica, 
sed etiam religio haeretica. Itaque salatare admodum est, si 
mente sobriafidei tantum dentur quae fidei sunt."— iVo!;. Org.1. 65. 
• " Naturalis Philosophia adhuc sincera non invenitur, sed 
infecta et corrupta : in Aristotelis schola per logicam, in Platonis 
schola per theologiam naturalem ; in seeunda schola Platonis, 


Still, notwithstanding this diametrical oppo- 
sition of principles and tendencies, there is still a 
philosophical point of contact to be found between 
the greatest idealist of antiquity and the greatest 
realist of modern times. 

The Platonic Method 

is akin or homogeneous to the Baconian. In 
much the same manner does Plato find his ideas ; 
Bacon, the laws of things. The Socratico-Pla- 
tonic method derives the mental conception from 
immediate representations ; Bacon, from natural 
phenomena, derives a law. In both cases the 
course of reasoning is inductive, beginning with 
particulars, and ascending to the universal. In 
both cases the induction is of a kind that pro- 
ceeds slowly and gradually {per gradus con- 
tinuos) to the universal: — with Plato, to Ideas; 
with Bacon, to laws : with Plato, to the original ; 
with Bacon, to the copy of nature : with Plato, 
to the final ; with Bacon, to the efficient causes 
of things. And what is the chief point of all, 
the course of induction is in both cases pursued 

Frocli et alioram, per mathematicam ; qnee philosophiam natu- 
ralem terminare, non geiierare aut procreare debet. At ex phi- 
losophia natural! pura et impermista meliora speranda sunt." — 
Nov. Org. I. 96. 


through negative instances. Following the ex- 
ample of Socrates, Plato applies the test of a 
negative instance to all definitions, so that these 
are continually rectified and purified by con- 
tradictory instances, which here are not natural 
phenomena, but definitions or propositions. In 
the " Republic," the idea of justice is under dis- 
cussion, and it appears to Cephalus that the just 
man should give to every one his own, and 
should therefore return what he has borrowed, 
when he is asked for it. " Is it then just," asks 
Socrates, " to return borrowed weapons, where 
the lender is mad when he asks for them?" 
Manifestly not. Here is the negative instance ; 
it shows that the first definition of justice was too 
broad, and therefore does not meet the point. What 
Cephalus imagines to be just, is not so in every 
case. To collect all the examples of the negative 
instances to be found in Plato, it would be neces- 
sary to copy out the whole of his dialogues. In 
the same manner. Bacon uses the negative instance 
as a test, to discover whether the conditions of 
natural phenomena that present themselves are 
essential or not. Plato makes experiments with 
ideas, as Bacon with things. With both of them, 
the mode of proof consists in so testing that 
which is to be proved, as to ascertain whether, in 
every respect, it will agree with their hypothesis; 


in other words, whether it will endure the ordeal 
of negative instances. Thus, both make experi- 
ments ; one logically, the other physically ; one 
to discover the true idea among our notions, 
the other to find out the true laws in nature. 
They proceed by similar roads, viz., per veram 
inductionem, to opposite goals. Bacon himself 
perceived this aflBnity, and it made him prefer 
Plato to Aristotle. " An induction that is to be 
useful for the discovery and demonstration of the 
sciences and arts, should separate nature by proper 
rejections and exclusions, and then, after a suf- 
ficient number of negatives, come to an affirma- 
tive conclusion. This has not yet been done, nor 
even tried, except by Plato, who certainly makes 
use of this form of induction to some extent, for 
the purpose of sifting definitions and ideas." * 

The Platonic induction leads to a world of 
ideas, which is formed by the way of continued 
abstraction ; the Baconian induction leads to a 
copy of the real world, by the way of continued 
experience. From Plato's point of view the real 

• " At inductio quae ad mventionem et demonstrationem 
scientiarum et artiuin erit utilis nataram eeparare debet, per re- 
jectiones et exolusiones debitas ; ac deinde, post negativas tot 
quot sufficiunt, super afSrmativas eoncludere ; quod adhuc factum 
non est, nee tentatum eerte, nisi tantummodo a Flatone, qui ad 
excutiendas deiinitiones et idea^, hac certe forma inductionis 
aliquatenus utitur." — Nov. Org. L 105. 


world itself appears a copy, of which philosophy- 
is to find the original. From the Baconian point 
of view, on the contrary, the real world appears 
as the orio-inal, of which philosophy must make a 
copy. The Platonic abstraction consists in the 
analysis of ideas ; the Baconian, in the analysis 
of things, — an anatomical dissection of bodies, the 
" dissectio naturae," the " anatomia corporum," 
which Bacon requires in lieu of the Platonic abs- 
traction. " For we are establishing in the human 
intellect a true model of the world, such as it is 
found to be, not such as any one's reason may 
have suggested ; but this cannot be effected with- 
out performing a most diligent dissection and 
anatomy of the world." * 


We now come to the last relation between 
Bacon and the Greek philosophy, and here we 
find an indubitable point of contact. Bacon 
opposes Aristotle on every point, and with all his 
might. He will have nothing in common with 
him, deeming that his method is as useless and as 

* " Etenim verum exemplar mundi in inteUectu humane fiiii- 
damus ; quale invenitur, nou quale cuipiam sua propria ratio 
dictarerit. Hoc autem perfici non potest, nisi facta mundi dis- 
eectione atque anatomia diligentissima." — Nov. Org. I. 124. 


sterile as his doctrines. His affinity to Plato is 
merely of the formal kind ; he finds here his own 
method, the true induction, but it is employed for 
futile ends or useless devices. For the Platonic 
ideas or imaginations have nothing in common 
with human life, and therefore cannot have any 
practical influence upon it. 

However, there is one doctrine of antiquity 
•which has a material affinity to Bacon, namely, 
Materialism itself, or, as the ancients called it, 
the Physiology of the Prae-Socratic period, which 
stands as the opposite pole to formal philosophy 
generally. To the Atomistic philosophy of De- 
mocritus and his disciples, sometimes involun- 
tarily, sometimes intentionally. Bacon is inclined 
above all other systems. That earliest philoso- 
phical age was devoted to a lively contemplation 
of nature, to the matter of things themselves, not 
to forms abstracted from them. The principles 
here laid down for the foundation of things were 
of a corporeal nature, and coincided with the 
elements. Bacon's dislike to formal philosophy 
occasions and explains his inclination to Ma- 
terialism. His opposition to Aristotle occasions 
and explains his affinity to Democritus. Bacon 
and Democritus form, as it were, two opposite 
poles to that formal philosophy that governed 
classical antiquity, and afterwards the scholastic 


middle ages. Democritus is the pole beyond it. 
Bacon the pole on this side. " It is better to 
dissect nature than to abstract," says Bacon, 
" and this has been done by the school of Demo- 
critus, which penetrated more deeply into nature 
than the rest."* Among all the Greek philoso- 
phers Bacon distinguishes the Atomists as the 
most sagacious, observing that they possessed and 
propagated a sense for true natural science, and 
were only obscured and, as it were, outshone by 
the philosophy of Aristotle and Plato, after the 
Genserics and Attilas — the barbarians of the 
irruption — had annihilated the scientific sense of 
the world altogether. For in the days of civilised 
antiquity the influence of Democritus never ceased. 
He and the whole age of Pr»-Socratic philosophy 
are opposed by Bacon to the authority of Aristotle. 
The tendency of Aristotle to busy himself with 
words, rather than with the living truth of things, 
is best shown, according to Bacon, by a com- 
parison of his philosophy with that of others, 
who were ia repute among the Greeks. " For 
the homoiomera of Anaxagoras, the atoms of Leu- 
cippus and Democritus, the heaven and earth of 
Parmenides, the discord and concord of Empe- 
docles, the resolution of bodies into the common 

* " Melius est naturam secare, quam abstrahere, id quod Demo- 
criti schola fecit, quae magis penetravit in naturam, quam reliquje." 


nature of fire, and their recondensation, as taught 
by Heraclitus, have about them somewhat of 
natural philosophy, and savour of the nature of 
things, of experience, and of corporeal reality ; 
v^hile for the most part the physics of Aristotle 
are nothing but logical terms, and are afterwards 
treated in his metaphysics under a more imposing 
name, and as if he were dealing rather with 
things than with words." * 

Among all these natural philosophers of the 
Greeks Bacon gives the preference to the Atomists, 
with Democritus at their head. Their theory is 
the most natural ; it penetrates corporeal things 
in the proper sense of the word, for it traces them 
to their ultimate particles, and is therefore more 
materialistic than any other. Democritus laid 
down the correct principle that matter was eternal, 
and that, far from being destitute of all shape and 
form, it was determined from the beginning by 
motive and forming powers ; that matter and form 

* " Habent eniiii Homoiomera Anaxagorse, Atomi Leuclppi 
et Democriti, Coelum et Terra Parmenidis, Lis et Amicitia 
Empedoclis, Resolutio corporum in adiaphoram naturam ignis 
et ]Jeplicatio eorundem ad densum Heracliti, aliquid ex philo- 
sopho naturali, et rerum naturam et experientiam et corpora 
sapiunt ; ubi Aristotelis Physica nihil aliud quam dialecticae 
voces plerunque sonet ; quam etiam in Metaphysicis sub solen- 
niore nomine, et ut magis scilicet realis, non nominalis, re- 
tractavit."— iVot;. Org. I. 63. 


were absolutely inseparable, had never been 
parted from each other in the nature of things, 
and therefore were not to be separated, though 
they might be distinguished in the interpretation 
of nature. That formless matter, of which Plato, 
Aristotle, and their disciples talk so much, is not 
the matter of things, but only the matter of that 
vague and obscure discourse which is the boast of 
word-philosophy. The only fault of Democritus 
consists in this, that he did not arrive at his 
correct and irrefutable principles by a methodical 
interpretation of nature, but anticipated them by 
the mere operation of the unassisted intellect; 
that is to say, he maintained them metaphysically, 
instead of proving them physically, by the way of 
experiment.* This fault of Democritus belongs to 

* This is the reason why Bacon did not identify his philo- 
sopliy with that of the Atomists. He desired physical, not 
metaphysical atoms. Physical atoms are corpuscles or particles, 
i. e. the ultimate and smallest parts of body that we can perceive 
and exhibit. The atoms, in the metaphysical or strict sense of 
the word, are mere thoughts, or entia ralionis (Gedanlcendinge), 
that no investigator of nature has ever yet discovered. This 
was clearly perceived by Bacon, who therefore says that his 
method will not lead to a theory of atoms, that presupposes a 
vacuum, and an immutable matter (both of which are false), but 
to real particles, such as are discovered to be. [" Ncque prop- 
terea res deducetur ad Atomum, qui prsesupponit vacuum et 
matcriam uon fluxam (quorum utrumque falsum est), sed ad 
particulas veras, quales inveniuntur." — JVov, Org. II. 8.] — 
Author's Note. 


the Greek philosophy in general, the character of 
■which is most distinctly Imprinted on the Atomists. 
Of all the ages of philosophy this earliest age of 
Greek physiology was most akin to nature and 
truth, at least so it appeared in the eyes of Bacon, 
who regarded it as the only one engaged in the 
serious pursuit of natural science. The follow- 
ing ages, from Socrates down to Bacon himself, 
corrupted natural philosophy, and thus brought 
science in general into a state of ever-increasing 
degeneracy. All genuine natural philosophy was 
spoiled and thrust back, first by the Platonic 
doctrine of ideas, which put abstract thoughts 
in the place of things; then, further, by the 
Aristotelian logic, which for both things and 
thoughts substituted words; afterwards by the 
moral philosophy of the Romans ; and, last of all, 
by that mixture of Aristotelian philosophy with 
Christian theology, which brought barbarism and 
the perversion of intellect to perfection. That 
earliest age, not yet vitiated by false philoso- 
phy, nor much perplexed by idola theatri, had 
alone the right instinct, and was alone directed 
to the right purpose. To carry out this purpose 
nothing was wanting but scientific means. Without 
instruments, without method, these earliest na- 
tural philosophers could not think conformably to 
experience, or in a truly physical spirit. What 


could they do but anticipate nature, when they 
were unable to interpret her in a scientific manner ? 
Their physics became metaphysics from the very 
first. They were right in seeking for the prin- 
ciple of things in the elements, in real natural 
forces, but these were at once converted, in their 
view, to general axioms. They discovered their 
principles rather by a divining glance than by 
deep investigation, and, being without a secure 
method of experience, were directed to the un- 
assisted intellect. They had not a false method, 
— they had no method at all. The intellect 
left to itself cannot know anything, it can only 
fabricate. Thus in Bacon's eyes the oldest philo- 
sophy seems, as far as its subject-matter is con- 
cerned, to be akin to nature and truth, but, with 
respect to its form, to belong more to imagination 
than to science. Nature and truth are to be 
found in it, not as objects of clear knowledge 
based upon experience, but as a myth projected 
by the poetical intellect. Here Bacon discovers 
the affinity between Greek physiology and mytho- 
logy, and here we have the origin of his views 
respecting the " Wisdom of the Ancients." Physi- 
ology appears to him as poetry, which indeed 
it was in the earliest times, and mythology as 
wisdom in the garb of poetical narrative, that is 
to say, as a fable or allegory of nature and her 


powers, — of men and their manners ; for what 
can poetry do but copy reality ? In this, there- 
fore, the oldest poetry and the oldest wisdom 
agree with each other, that they stand nearest 
the simple truth, from which they have not been 
seduced by a false culture, and express, by 
imagery, the sense of nature, with which they 
are inspired. Thus Bacon could only regard the 
myths of antiquity as allegories, and attempted 
an allegorical explanation of them in his book 
on the " Wisdom of the Ancients." And at this 
point of view he arrived, it seems, by two paths. 
By one he finds in the earliest age scientific 
myths, — fables that appear as important theories, 
and, when stripped of their poetical veil, are 
converted into physiological propositions, that 
more accord with his own views than all the 
systems of a later period. But if, in some cases, 
the myths have evidently an allegorical signi^- 
cance, why not in many other cases also? If 
there are scientific why not also moral and political 
myths ? Thus could Bacon reason, and thus, in 
accordance with such reasoning, could he attempt 
to apply the allegorical mode of interpretation, 
that in some cases seemed to be imperatively en- 
joined, by the nature of things, to many similar 
cases. Nay, it is not enough to say that he could 
do this. After the discovery that he thought he 

N 2 


had made in reviewing the earliest age of the 
philosophy that had preceded him, he could not 
do otherwise than prefer the allegoric interpreta- 
tion of ancient poetry to every other. He was 
further impelled in this direction by the view 
which he took of poetry itself; and here we have 
the other path, to which we have already alluded. 
The one path leads by mduction from a historical 
fact, which Bacon generalises by applying it to 
many cases ; the other leads by (/eduction from a 
general theory to an experiment, which is to 
confirm the presupposed theory, and exemplify 
it in a series of instances. Both meet at one 
point, and this point is Bacon's " Wisdom of the 
Ancients." The shorter of the two paths, — the 
one which leads to the goal in a straight line, — 
is the second, which is the immediate result of 
Bacon's theory of poetry. 




While critically reviewing the preceding systems 
of philosophy. Bacon at last £nds himself in the 
presence of poetry. The only point of contact 
between his own philosophy and the past is in 
that earliest age, when science and poetry were 
still identical. The Baconian mind is most remote 
from the Aristotelian scholasticism ; in a certain 
sense it approaches the Platonic, and most of all 
it accords with the atomistic view of Democritus. 
Here the Baconian philosophy, and that which 
preceded it, begin to diverge. They converge as 
they approach mythology, the poetical age of 
science, when philosophy and poetry still held 
intercourse with each other. Hence the interest 
which Bacon takes in the myths of antiquity. 
This interest has, in the Baconian philosophy itself, 
a deeper foundation than is commonly supposed. 
It is supported by the affinity which Bacon dis- 
covers between himself and the philosophy of the 
prffi-Socratic age. His interpretation of the 
ancient myths, and his relation to this kind of 
N 3 


poetry, may partly, at least, be explained by tbe 
position taken by the Baconian with reference to 
the earlier philosophy ; for this interpretation is, 
partly, at least, a translation of mythology into 
Baconian physiology, and is therefore one of the ex- 
ponents by which Bacon's relation to his predeces- 
sors is made clear to us. But his interpretation of 
the myths may also be immediately deduced from 
Bacon's view of poetry in general; and we are 
the more justified in making this deduction, inas- 
much as it was made by Bacon himself. His 
poetical principles preceded and foreshadowed his 
interpretation of the myths. 

I. The Baconian Poetics. 

The purpose of the Baconian philosophy is to 
direct the theoretical to the practical mind. The 
common aim of both should be such a cultivation 
of man, as will generally be useful in increasing 
his dominion and promoting his happiness. The 
practical mind, by means of invention, should 
remodel the world; the theoretic, conformably to 
experience, should copy it.* What can this 
copying of the world be but a description and 

* In the original there is an antithesis between " nmbilden '' 
and " abbilden," which vanishes in translation. — J O. 


interpretation ? The description of the world is 
the history of nature and humanity. The inter- 
pretation of the world is science, by which the 
information given by history is duly apprehended. 
History belongs to the memory, which collects 
and preserves our experiences ; science to reason, 
which reflects on these experiences, and reduces 
them to general laws. But, besides memory and 
reason, the theoretic mind has another faculty, — 
imagination. Hence there is a possibility of a 
copy of the world made by the imagination, less 
accurate in detail than the copy in the memory ; 
less regulated by law than the copy in the reason ; 
and distinguished from them both by the circum- 
stance that it is not found, but invented. Percep- 
tion and reason should be faithful mirrors, which 
reflect things unaltered. Imagination, on the 
other hand, is a magic glass that alters while it 
reflects. The imaginary copy of the world which 
it invents is poetry, which, in the realm of the 
theoretic mind, holds the middle province between 
history and science. 

In its operation poetry is akin to the practical 
mind, for it is inventive; but its end is only 
theoretical, as it consists in a mere representation 
of the world. In the mode of representation 
poetry differs from both science and history ; for 

N 4 


these must represent the world as it is, whereas 
poetry may represent it such as the human heart 
would desire it to be ; these bring the human mind 
to the level of external things ; poetry brings 
the things to the level of the mind, " Therefore 
poetry was ever thought to have some participa- 
tion of divineness, because it doth raise and erect 
the mind, by submitting the shows of things to 
the desires of the mind, whereas reason doth 
buckle and bow the mind unto the nature of 
things."* What then is poetry from the 
Baconian point of view ? A copy of the world, 
not only in, but after our own mind ; a copy of 
the world, exhibited among the idols of the ima- 
gination. Here, then, we have poetry as a mere 
mirror of the world, not as a mirror of the human 
soul ; as a mere copy of history, not as a copy of 
cur own hearts. In other words, lyrical poetry 
is not recognised by Bacon. This follows as a 
necessary consequence from his point of view; 
according to which, the theoretic mind in general 
merely copies the world, while the particular 
copy that exists in poetry is of the imaginary 
sort. Bacon himself says : " We exclude satires, 
elegies, epigrams, odes, and the like, from our dis- 
course, and class them with philosophy and the 

* "Advancement of Learning," Book 11. Compare "De 
Augment." 11. 1 3, where " history " is added to " reason." — J. O. 


arts of oratory."* Here, then, is the peculiar 
limit of the Baconian theory of poetry ; it denies 
lyrical poetry, and is, indeed, unable to explain it. 
Thus it not only overlooks a whole mass of poetry 
that certainly exists, by whatever name it may 
be called, but what is more, it overlooks the in- 
exhaustible source of all poetry whatever, — all 
that renders the human imagination inventive, 
and gives it a poetical turn. Lyrical poetry is 
the expression of that which inspires the imagina- 
tion, and thus makes it capable and desirous of 
poetry, — the expression of that which is the con» 
dition precedent, and the stimulus of poetical and 
artistic activity in general. There is no artistic 
creation vfithout imagination ; there is no creative 
imagination without a deep internal emotion, and 
what the heart f suffers from this emotion is 
revealed by lyrical poetry. He who so explains 
poetry as to exclude the lyrical kind, conceives 
poetry and art in general without creative imagi- 
nation or internal emotion {Gemuthshewegung), 
and therefore naturally retains the mere prose of 
both. This will appear plainly enough in the 
case of Bacon, whose views of poetry are far 

* " Satiras et Elegias et Epigraramata et Odas et hujusmodi 
ab instituto surmone removemas, atque ad philosopbiam et artes 
orationis rejicimus." — De Augment. IL 13. 

t The original word is the untranslatable " Gemuth." — J. O. 


more prosaic than he is himself. He begins by 
classing the essentially ultra-poetical under rhe- 
toric, — that is to say, prose; and he winds up by 
ranking the essentially prosaic, that is to say, 
allegorical poetry, as the highest order of the 
poetical. His view of poetry Is the exact con- 
verse of the truth. Where it derives everything 
from its primary and natural source, he does not 
recognise it at all ; where it is just on the point 
of turning into prose, but has not quite thrown 
aside the veil, it appears to him at the very 
summit of its power and dignity. But what is 
left in poetry if the lyrical kind is excluded ? 
Nothing but a copy of history, in which events 
are exhibited in the narrative form, as belonging 
to the past ; in the dramatic form, as actions of 
the present time ; in the allegoric form, as if 
pregnant with significance. The poetical copy of 
history is either narrative, dramatic, or parabolic. 
Of epic poetry. Bacon says, it is a " mere imita- 
tion of history," of dramatic (or representative*), 
that it is " a visible history, — an imitation of 
actions as if they were present ; the parabolic is 
" a history with a type, presenting the Intelligible 
to the senses." 

" "Dramatic" is the word used in "De Aug.;" "Repre- 
sentatiTe" the word in the "Advancement." Compare Be 
Aug.U. 13. — J. O. 


Epic poetry borders on history, parabolic 
poetry on science. The former exhibits history, 
and presupposes tradition; the latter interprets 
history, and seeks explanation. Since the whole 
purpose of Bacon is to convert history (or the 
description of the world) into science (or the 
interpretation of the world), it may easily be 
understood why, among all the kinds of poetry, 
that is most attractive to him which stands 
nearest to science. The parabolic kind is, with 
him, the most important ; " it stands pre-eminent 
above the rest." It rivets the imagination by its 
images, and the significance of these incites the 
understanding. Thus it forms, as it were, the 
introduction, the preparatory school, the first, 
child-like, fanciful expression of science, — and its 
didactic value is, in Bacon's eyes, its poetical value 
also. It is not for the sake of art, but for the 
sake of science, that the importance of allegorical 
poetry is thus magnified. This kind of poetry 
appears more poetical than the rest, inasmuch as 
it is more useful and more serviceable to science. 
It converts history into an allegory or type, either 
to veil mysteries, or to give a sensible form to 
truths. In the former case it is mystical, in the 
latter didactic. Mystical symbolism is subser- 
vient to religion, didactic to science. The sacred 
mysteries of religion are veiled by symbols from 


the eyes of the multitude, while the truths of 
nature are, by the very same means, rendered 
comprehensible and accessible to all. Menenius 
Agrippa, by his fable, convinced the Koman 
people of the justice of political distinctions, and 
in a similar spirit science approached mankind 
in the earliest ages : " For when the devices and 
conclusions of human reason (even those that are 
now trite and common) were new and unfamiliar, 
their subtilty surpassed the capacity of the hu- 
man mind, unless they were brought nearer to 
the senses by images and examples of this kind. 
Hence, in the early ages, fables of all sorts, para- 
bles, enigmas, and similes everywhere abounded. 
Hence the symbols of Pythagoras, the enigmas 
of the Sphinx, the fables of ^sop, and the like. 
Even the apophthegms of the ancient wise were 
often expressed in the form of similitudes. As 
hieroglyphics were more ancient than letters, so 
were parables more ancient than arguments. 
Even to the present day, their force is (as it 
always was) pre-eminent, since no argument can 
be so perspicuous, nor can any example, however 
true, be equally apt."* 

* " Cum enim rationis humanse inyenta et<;oTiclusiones (etiam 
e£e quffi nunc tritse et vulgatse sunt) tunc temporis noviE et 
insuetse essent, vix illam subtilitatem capiebant ingenia humana, 
nisi propius ese ad sensum per hujusmodi simulachra et exempla. 


This is the point of view from which Bacon 
understands the fables of antiquity. These stories 
of gods and wonders are copies of the world (of 
nature, and of man), executed by the imagination. 
But they are not natural copies. "What, then, can 
they be but copies with a special signification? 
They are neither epic nor dramatic ; what, then, 
can they be but parabolic? They are not so much 
copies as symbols * of the world, which were re- 
quired by the earliest philosophy to give its truths 
a sensible form. It is to the interest of science 
to explain the sense, which these fables express 
by images — as it were, by hieroglyphics. This 
interpretation of myths, which can only be al- 
legorical, is reckoned by Bacon among the sci- 
entific problems yet to be solved ; and he himself 
attempts a solution by way of example. " Inas- 
much as the attempts that have been made to the 
present time to interpret these parables (made as 
they have been by men unskilled, and without 

deducerentnr. Quare omnia apnd illos fabnlarum omnigenarum 
ct parabolarum et senigmatum et similitudinum plena fuerunt. 
Hinc tesserse Pythagorse, senigmata Sphingis, Msopi fabute, et 
similia. Quinetiam apophthegmata veterum Sapientnm fere per 

Bimilitudines rem demonstrabant Denique nt hierogly- 

phica Uteris, ita parabolse argumentis erant antiquiores. Atque 
hodie etiam, et semper, eximius est et fuit parabolarum vigor ; 
cnm nee argumenta tam perspicua nee vera exempla tam apta 
esse possint." — De Aug. IL 13. 

* " Weniger Abbilder als Sinnbilder." — J. O. 


more than common-place learning,) are by no 
means satisfactory to us, it appears that a philo- 
sophy, according to the ancient parables, is to be 
classed among desiderata. Of such a work we 
will add an example or two ; not, perhaps, because 
the matter is of great moment, but that we may 
adhere consistently to the principle we have laid 
down, which is to this effect, that whenever we 
class any work among the desiderata (and our 
meaning might otherwise be somewhat obscure), 
we shall invariably give precepts or proper ex- 
amples for preparing the work desired, lest any 
one may think that we have merely taken a super- 
ficial glance at such objects, and that, like augurs, 
we have measured regions in our mind, without 
learning by what road to enter them. That any 
thing else is wanting, with respect to poetry, we 
do not find." * 

* " Cum vero quae circa harum parabolarum interpretationem 
adhuc tentata sint, per homines scilicet imperitos nee ultra locos 
communes doctos, nobis nuUo modo satisfaciant ; Philosophiam 
secundum Parabolas Antiquas inter Desiderata referre visum est. 
Ejus autem operis exemplum unum aut alterum subjungemus. 
Non quod res sit fortasse tanti, sed ut institutum nostrum serve - 
mus. Id hujusmodi est, ut de operibus illis quas inter Desiderata 
ponimus (si quid sit paulo obscuiius) perpetuo aut prascepta ad 
opus illud instruendum, aut exempla proponamus ; ne quis forte 
existimet levem aliqnam tantum notionem de illis mentem nos- 
tram perstrinxisse, nosque regiones sicut augures animo tantum 
metiri, neque eas ingrediendi vias nosse. Aliam aliquam partem 
in Poesi desiderari non invenimus." — De Aug. IL 13. 


Thus, the poetics of Bacon lead directly to his 
work " On the Wisdom of the Ancients." Here, 
by a series of examples, the solution of the pro- 
blem is prefigured. Towards this solution, Bacon's 
poetics furnish not only precepts, but also illus- 
trative cases, that are also to be found in the 
treatise " On the Wisdom of the Ancients." The 
myths of Pan, Perseus, and Dionysus here serve 
him as so many prerogative instances. In the 
first, we have a specimen of a Cosmic or physical 
truth ; in the second, of a political truth; in the 
third, of a moral truth, — all expressed in symbols. 

II. The Baconian Interpretation of the Ancient 


What Bacon terms "philosophy according to the 
ancient parables,'' signifies the resolution of myths 
into philosophemes, of poetry into "wisdom," of 
sensible images into pure thought. An attempt of 
the sort was made by Bacon in a very remarkable 
treatise, which forms, as it were, the transition 
from his Democritic views to that interpretation 
of myths, by which he connects an antique fiction 
with his own physiological principles. If his theory 
of poetry allowed of no interpretation of myths but 
the allegorical, nothing could be more opportune to 


his purpose than the simultaneous discovery of the 
same myth in the mouths both of ancient poets and 
philosophers, — the discovery that both employed 
the same symbol for a like end. Now there was 
no myth that more riveted his attention than that 
which was connected with natural philosophy, and 
was based on cosmogonic theories ; and among all 
cosmogonic theories there was none that to him 
appeared more correct than the atomic doctrine 
of Democritus, — that system of physiology that 
laid eternal matter, with its operative and forming 
forces, at the foundation of all natural pheno- 
mena. Conformably to this theory. Bacon endea- 
voured to solve the symbol, in which poets and 
philosophers had explained and embodied the origin 
of the woi-ld. This is the fable of Eros, not the 
son of Aphrodite, but the oldest of the gods, the 
fashioner of the world, of whom some say that he 
was without origin or parent (sine parente, sine 
causa), others that he was the oiFspring of Night 
and Chaos. This Eros, with his attributes, is to 
Bacon the symbol of that original matter, with its 
forces, which to him was the truest of all ancient 
hypotheses. This theme is the subject of Bacon's 
treatise " On the Principles and Origins of Things, 
according to the fables of Cupid and Heaven ; or 
the philosojjhy of Parmenides, Telesius, and more 
particularly of Democritus, treated in the fable of 


Cupid." * To this interpretation Bacon seems to 
have attached the greatest value. He repeats it 
as often as he can. In his treatise on the " Wis- 
dom of the Ancients," it returns again, under the 
heads, " Coelum, or beginnings, " and " Cupid, or 
an atom." 

Throughout all the thirty-one instances with 
which Bacon makes his experiments in the "Wis- 
dom of the Ancients," we are less interested in 
the interpretation itself than in the interpreter's 
point of view ; and in the latter only because, on 
the one hand, it shows the relation of the Baconian 
philosophy to antiquity, and, on the other, it ex- 
hibits to us a very striking peculiarity of the 
Baconian mind. Bacon presupposes that the 
myths are parables, without in the least troubling 
himself about their history, without investigating 
their origin, or their popular and religious ele- 
ments, without distinguishing their earlier from 
their later forms, their epic from their allegorical 
side. Parables are equations, of which one mem- 
ber is given, and the other is to be discovered. 
What is given is the image, what is to be dis- 
covered is the sense. Bacon would convert 
myths, which he regards as parables, into similes ; 

* " He principiis atque originibus Eccundum fabulas Cupidinis 
et Coeli sive Parmenidis et Telesii, et prsecipue Democriti philo- 
sophia, tractata in fabula de Cupidine." 


and therefore he writes at the head of each solution 
the equation * which is its subject. The legends 
which follow each other without critical order are 
to him so many riddles, which he solves with inven- 
tive tact, but for the most part in the most arbitrary 
manner. As the fictions of antiquity are only 
equal to themselves, and do not require a second 
member, the discovery of the latter is the mere sport 
of Bacon's unfettered imagination. His treatment 
of myths is like ^Esop's treatment of animals ; he 
puts into them the truth that he means them to 
signify, so that he alone is, in this case, the alle- 
gorical poet. He is no more an interpreter of the 
myths than JEsop is a zoologist. 

Nevertheless, the manner in which Bacon plays 
with the myths, while he seriously purposes to 
explain them, is, in many respects, highly charac- 
teristic. We see here as plainly as possible how 
inappropriate the Baconian mode of thought be- 
comes when applied to the poetry of antiquity, 
or, indeed, to history in general; we see how 
small is its ability to apprehend the peculiar and 
original elements in historical processes, while it 
endeavours, with so much zeal and circumspection, 
to explain natural processes in accordance with 
their own objective properties, apart from all 

"■ Dr. Fischer supposes the sign of equality substituted for the 
" or " of Bacon's titles, thus : — "Proteus = matter." — J. O. 


human analogies. Moreover, Bacon's inclination 

and talent for the discovery of analogies nowhere 

appears more unfettered and arbitrary than here, 

where he is without that serviceable polar-star on 

which his spirit of combination could rely in the 

region of nature. His interpretation of the myths, 

on which he wastes so much profundity, with as 

much recklessness, is a striking example of those 

fallacious analogies, against which he himself has 

warned us in his " Organum." One example will 

serve us in the place of many. He regards the 

god Pan as the symbol of nature, who is made to 

embody herself in this image, just as she appears 

to him. With this intention must antiquity, as 

he thinks, have devised the myth of this deity. 

Pan represents the aggregate of earthly things, 

which are doomed to be transient, and to which 

a definite period of duration is assigned by nature; 

and therefore the ParcaB are his sisters. The 

horns of Pan are pointed upwards ; and, in the 

same manner, nature ascends from individuals to 

species, and from species to genera, after the 

fashion of a pyramid. The horns, in which the 

pyramidal form is retained, reach to the sky ; thus 

the highest generic ideas lead from physics to 

metaphysics, and speculative theology. The body 

of Pan is covered with hair, symbolising the rays 

of light that emanate from shining bodies, and is, 

o 2 


moreover, composed of the human and the brute 
forms, to correspond to that transition from a lower 
to a higher grade, — to that combination that every- 
where appears in nature. The goat's feet of Pan 
denote the upward tendency of terrestrial bodies ; 
the pipe symbolises the harmony of the world ; 
the seven reeds signify the seven planets ; the 
crooked staflf represents the " circular " operations 
of Providence ; lastly, Echo, who is married to 
Pan, is a symbol of science, which should be the 
echo and copy of the world. 

In this spirit does Bacon interpret the myths 
of antiquity. His explanations are travesties, in 
which the comic intention is wanting, and are 
therefore all the more glaring parodies of serious 
interpretation. Considered with respect to the 
myths, they are so utterly worthless, that no one 
could desire a serious refutation of them ; but so 
far as they throw a light on Bacon himself, they 
are important. It is their importance in this latter 
respect that we alone have to demonstrate. We 
have to show our readers how, hy the path of his own 
philosophy, Bacon arrived at his peculiar interpre- 
tation of the ancient myths ; for this was by no 
means, as many suppose, and, indeed, as every 
one must think at the first glance, — a mere idle 

There are, of course, here and there, a few 


instances of happy and judicious interpretation. 
Some myths are imprinted, with characters proper 
to the human species, and therefore rivet our 
attention as typss of mankind, as if they were 
mirrors of our own dispositions. Thus Prome- 
theus has become the involuntary type of a mind 
that strives upwards, confident and rejoicing in its 
own independent strength ; and in this type have 
Bacon and Gothe seen themselves prefigured. 
Bacon sees in the mythical Titans the inventive 
mind of man, that makes nature subservient to its 
own ends, establishes the dominion of man over 
the world, and exalts human power to an un- 
limited degree, by setting it up against the gods. 

As Bacon sees in Prometheus the type of the 
aspiring mind, rendered powerful by invention, 
so does Narcissus appear to him the type of 
human self-love. He makes use of the fiction, 
that by means of its several features he may 
describe this quality; and we must admit that, 
much as Bacon distorts the poet's details, and 
little as his interpretation accords with the cha- 
racter of the mythus, it proves that he himself 
had a subtle knowledge of human nature. He 
has missed the poet's meaning, but he has so 
happily characterised self-love that we cite his 
description in his own words : — 

" They say that Narcissus was exceeding fair 

O 3 


and beautiful, but wonderful proud and disdain- 
ful ; wherefore, despising all others in respect of 
himself, he leads a solitary life in the woods and 
chases with a few followers, to whom he alone 
was all in all ; amongst the rest there follows him 
the nymph Echo. During his course of life it 
fatally so chanced that he came to a clear foun- 
tain, upon the brink whereof he lay down to 
repose himself in the heat of the day ; and having 
espied the shadow of his own face in the water, 
was so besotted and ravished with the contem- 
plation and admiration thereof, that he by no 
means possibly could be drawn from beholding 
his image in this glass ; insomuch that by con- 
tinual gazing thereupon he pined away to nothing, 
and was at last turned into a flower of his own 
name, which appears in the beginning of the 
spring, and is sacred to the infernal powers, 
Pluto, Proserpine, and the Furies. This fable 
seems to show the dispositions and fortunes of 
those who, in respect of their beauty or other 
gift wherewith they are adorned and graced by 
nature without the help of industry, are so far 
besotted in themselves as that they prove the 
cause of their own destruction. For it is the 
property of men infected with this humour not 
to come much abroad or to be conversant in civil 
affairs; specially seeing those that are in public 


places must of necessity encounter with many 
contempts and scorns which may much deject 
and trouble their minds ; and therefore they lead 
for the most part a solitary, private, and obscure 
life, attended on with a few followers, and those 
such as will adore and admire them, like an echo, 
flatter them in all their sayings, and applaud 
them in all their words; so that, being by this 
custom seduced and puffed up, and, as it were, 
stupified with the admiration of themselves, they 
are possessed with so strange a sloth and idleness 
that they grow in a manner benumbed and 
defective of all vigour and alacrity. Elegantly 
doth this flower, appearing in the beginning of 
the spring, represent the likeness of these men's 
dispositions, who in their youth do flourish and 
wax famous ; but, being come to ripeness of 
years, they deceive and frustrate the good hope 
that is conceived of them. Neither is it imper- 
tinent that this flower is said to be consecrated to 
the infernal deities, because men of this disposition 
become unprofitable to all human things. For 
whatever produceth no fruit of itself, but passeth 
and vanisheth as if it had never been, like the 
way of a ship in the sea, that the ancients were 
wont to dedicate to the ghosts and powers 

* " Wisdom of the Ancients. Narcissus or Self-love." 
O 4 


It may be seen from this example, which we 
have purposely selected, how recklessly Bacon 
proceeds with the different features of the fable. 
His Narcissus is a different person from the 
Narcissus of Ovid, and the chief poetical trait of 
the whole story is precisely the one that Bacon 
has most perverted. In the myth Narcissus de- 
spises Echo, who pursues him ; in Bacon's inter- 
pretation he seeks Echo, as the only person 
whose society he can endure. Of the devoted 
nymph Bacon makes a parasite, and of Narcissus 
a generally human type, which he delineates with 
masterly success. 

III. Greek and Roman Antiquity. 


For the historical and religious foundation of 
mythology Bacon has neither sense nor standard. 
He takes the myths as airy creations of an 
arbitrary imagination, as poetical vehicles for 
instruction, which he explains and modifies after 
the form of his own mind. But mythology 
remains the foundation of antiquity ; and as Bacon 
is not aware of this fact he is equally unable to 
judge and understand the particular world that 
rests upon that foundation. He judges of anti- 
quity as a critical spectator with an uncongenial 
mind. He was without sense for the historical 


peculiarity of antiquity, he was wanting in that 
sympathetic appreciation of the antique, which 
here, if anywhere, is requisite for a thorough know- 
ledge. Throughout the whole of that " enlighten- 
ment" {Aufkldrung*^ which owes its origin to 
Bacon, this deficiency continues. In the German 
" enlightenment" there was the same deficiency, 
but it was supplied by Winckelmann and his suc- 
cessors. On the English and French side, on the 
other hand, the void has never been filled up, 
and it seems as if the ruling mind of these nations 
lacks the foundation which is necessary for such 
a purpose, and cannot be acquired, much less 
compensated by any empirical knowledge. This 
foundation rests upon an affinity to the antique 
which distinguishes the German from the other 
intellectual nations of the modern world, and 
perhaps serves as a compensation for so many 
defects. We are here speaking of Greek an- 
tiquity, which Bacon could not distinguish from 
the Koman. Nevertheless the distinction is so 

* Although the word " Auf klarung " reeilly means the same as 
the English "enlightenment," it is used by all German authors in 
a manner that appears harsh in translation. It generally signifies 
a triumph of the intellect over prejudice and superstition, and is 
sometimes almost identical with the English "free-thinking." 
The 18th century (before the French revolution) is especially the 
age of " Auf klarung," and hence, when used by certain critics, 
the word conveys censure rather than praise. Here it signifies 
■the series of " enlightened " persons. — J. 0. 


great that the two kinds of antiquity should 
scarcely be called by a common name. Classical 
antiquity, then, in a specific sense, is the Greek 
upon a Homeric basis. Bacon, on the other hand, 
consistently with the spirit of his nation and his 
age, only saw Greek antiquity through the 
medium of the Roman. In his own manner of 
thought and feeling there was something kindred 
to the Roman mind, something that held the same 
relation to the Greek mind that prose does to 
poetry. As the mythological fictions of the 
Greeks appeared to the Roman intellect, so, or 
nearly so, did they appear to that of Bacon. The 
Roman explained the ancient fictions in that 
allegorical manner that came into vogue among 
the later philosophers after Aristotle, especially 
the Stoics, and was first established by Chry- 
sippus. These later philosophers were already 
in a state of transition from the Greek to the 
Roman world. Notwithstanding the endeavours 
of Bacon, in his preface to the " Wisdom of the 
Ancients," to repudiate the Stoics, more especially 
Chrysippus, he has no right whatever to regard 
their mode of interpreting myths as more vain 
and arbitrary than his own. The whole age in 
which he lived only knew the Greek antiquity 
in the spirit of the Roman, with which the national 
mind of the English in general (as a consequence 


of their position in the world), and the Baconian 
thought in particular, both sympathised. The 
affinity between the Roman and Baconian mind 
consists in the preponderance of that prac- 
tical sense which considers everything in re- 
ference to man's utility, and the chief and 
ultimate object of which is the extension of 
human dominion. This parallel may be pur- 
sued through several points. The Romans aim 
at dominion over nations. Bacon at dominion over 
nature. Both employ invention as the means to 
this end. With the Romans invention is military, 
with Bacon it is physical; and the victorious wars 
in the one case correspond to the victorious 
experiments in the other. That their wars may 
have a secure foundation*, the Romans devise 
civic laws, by which internal relations are esta- 
blished and regulated. To obtain a firm basis for 
his experiments. Bacon seeks natural laws, which 
determine the internal conditions on which the 
success of the experiments depends. Both frame 
their laws under the guidance of experience, one 
in the interest of politics, the other in that of 
natural science. Practical ends determine the 
direction both of the Roman and Baconian mind, 
and produce in both a certain affinity of thought. 

* Literally, "Hintergrund" (background). — J. 0, 


In accordance with that view of practical utility, 
which was a result of their national and political 
aims, the Romans appropriated to themselves the 
whole world of Grecian gods, giving it a civic 
position, and driving imagination out of it. 
Thus, the Roman mind was naturally inclined to 
that allegorical interpretation of myths, by which 
a naive fiction is made an affair of the reflective 
understanding, and is thus converted from a free 
creation of the fancy into an expedient devised 
for some purpose, didactic or otherwise. An 
allegorical interpretation of poetry is not possible 
at all, except on the supposition of the question : 
" What is the intention of the poem ? what 
purpose does it serve?" To this question we 
have a conceivable answer in allegorical inter- 
pretation, — an answer that is just as prosaic, and 
as much opposed to the spirit of poetry, as the 
question itself. To the artist who employs 
them, allegories are only means, not ends, — 
never objects, but mere instruments, which he 
only uses when he cannot express his object 
without their aid. Allegory in poetry, as in art 
generally, is an expedient that proves a defect 
either in the natural means of the art itself, or in 
those of the artist. Poetry cannot be interpreted 
allegorically, until it is itself regarded as an alle- 
gory ; that is to say, not as an end, but as the 


means to an end. This was the Roman manner 
of apprehending the creations of Greek imagina- 
tion, and the Baconian manner agreed with it. 

The same affinity for the Roman mind, and 
the same want of sympathy with the Greek, we 
again find in Bacon's greatest contemporary, 
whose imagination took as broad and compre- 
hensive a view as Bacon's intellect. Indeed, 
how could a Bacon attain that position with 
respect to Greek poetry that was unattainable 
by the mighty imagination of a Shakspeare? 
For in Shakspeare^ at any rate, the imagination 
of the Greek antiquity could be met by a homo- 
geneous power of the same rank as itself; and, 
as the old adage says, " like comes to like." But 
the age, the spirit of the nation, — in a word, all 
those forces of which the genius of an indi- 
vidual man is composed, and which, moreover, 
genius is least able to resist, — had here placed 
an obstacle, impenetrable both to the poet and 
the philosopher. Shakspeare was no more able 
to exhibit Greek characters than Bacon to ex- 
pound Greek poetry. Like Bacon, Shakspeare 
had in his turn of mind something that was 
Roman, and not at all akin to the Greek. He 
could appropriate to himself a Coriolanus and a 
Brutus, a Cassar and an Antony ; he could suc- 
ceed with the Roman heroes of Plutarch, but not 


with the Greek heroes of Homer. The latter he 
could only parody, but his parody was as infe- 
licitous as Bacon's explanation of the " Wisdom 
of the Ancients." Those must be dazzled critics 
indeed who can persuade themselves that the 
heroes of the Iliad are excelled by the caricatures 
in " Troilus and Cressida." The success of such 
a parody was poetically impossible ; indeed, he 
that attempts to parody Homer shows thereby 
that he has not understood him. For the simple 
and the naive do not admit of a parody, and these 
have found in Homer their et»rnal and inimitable 
expression. Just as well might caricatures be made 
of the statues of Phidias. Where the creative 
imagination never ceases to be simple and naive, 
where it never distorts itself by the affected or the 
unnatural, there is the consecrated land of poetry, 
in which there is no place for the parodist. On 
the other hand, where there is a palpable want of 
simplicity and nature, parody is perfectly con- 
ceivable, nay, may even be felt as a poetical 
necessity. Thus Euripides, who, often enough, 
was neither simple nor naif, could be parodied, 
and Aristophanes has shown us with what felicity. 
Even ^schylus, who was not always as simple as 
he was grand, does not completely escape the 
parodising test. But Homer is safe. To parody 
Homer is to mistake him, and to stand so far 


beyond his scope that the truth and magic of his 
poetry can no longer be felt; and this is the 
position of Shakspeare and Bacon. The imagina- 
tion of Homer, and all that could be contem- 
plated and felt by that imagination, namely the 
classical antiquity of the Greeks, are to them 
utterly foreign. We cannot understand Aristotle 
without Plato ; nay, I maintain that we cannot 
contemplate with a sympathetic mind the Platonic 
world of ideas, if we have not previously sympa- 
thised with the world of the Homeric gods. Be it 
understood I speak of the form of the Platonic 
mind, not of its logical matter ; in point of doc- 
trine, the Homeric faith was no more that of 
Plato than of Phidias. But these doctrinal or 
logical differences are far less than the formal 
and assthetical affinity. The conceptions of Plato 
are of Homeric origin. 

This want of abiUty to take an historical survey 
of the world is to be found alike in Bacon and 
Shakspeare, together with many excellencies 
likewise common to them both. To the parallel 
between them — which Gervinus, with his pecu- 
liar talent for combination, has drawn in the 
concluding remarks to his " Shakspeare," and has 
illustrated by a series of appropriate instances — 
belongs the similar relation of both to antiquity, 
their affinity to the Roman mind, and their 


diversity from the Greek. Both possessed to 
an eminent degree that faculty for a knowledge of 
human nature that at once presupposes and calls 
forth an Interest in practical life and historical 
reality. To this interest corresponds the stage, 
on which the Roman characters moved ; and here 
Bacon and Shakspeare met, brought together by 
a common interest in these objects, and the 
attempt to depict and copy them. This point of 
argreement, more than any other argument, ex- 
plains their affinity. At the same time there is 
no evidence that one ever came into actual con- 
tact with the other. Bacon does not even men- 
tion Shakspeare when he discourses of dramatic 
poetry, but passes over this department of poetry 
with a general and superficial remark that relates 
less to the subject itself than to the stage and its 
uses. As far as his own age is concerned, he sets 
down the moral value of the stage as exceedingly 
trifling. But the affinity of Bacon to Shak- 
speare is to be sought in his moral and psycho- 
logical, not in his SBsthetical views, which are too 
much regulated by material interests and utili- 
tarian prepossessions to be applicable to art itself, 
considered with reference to its own independent 
value. However, even in these there is nothing 
to prevent Bacon's manner of judging mankind, 
and apprehending characters from agreeing per- 


fectly with that of Shakspeare ; so that human 
life, the subject-matter of all dramatic art, ap- 
peared to him much as it appeared to the great 
artist himself, who, in giving form to this mat- 
ter, excelled all others. Is not the inexhaustible ■ 
theme of Shakspeare's poetry the history and 
course of human passion? In the treatment 
of this especial th«ne is not Shakspeare the 
greatest of all poets — nay, is he not unique 
among them all? And it is this very theme 
that is proposed by Bacon as the chief problem 
of moral philosophy. He blames Aristotle for 
treating of the passions in his Rhetoric rather 
than his Ethics ; for regarding the artificial means 
of exciting them rather than their natural history. 
It is to the natural history of the human passions 
that Bacon directs the attention of philosophy. 
He does not find any knowledge of them among 
the sciences of his time. " The poets and writers 
of histories," he says, " are the best doctors of 
this knowledge ; where we may find painted forth 
with great life how passions are kindled and 
incited ; and how pacified and refrained ; and how 
again contained from act and further degree ; 
how they disclose themselves ; how they work ; 
how they vary ; how they gather and fortify ; how 
they are in wrapped one within another ; and how 
they do fight and encounter one with another ; and 


other the like particularities."* Such a lively 
description is required by Bacon from moral 
philosophy. That is to say, he desires nothing 
less than a natural history of the passions ; — the 
very thing that Shakspeare has produced. Indeed, 
what poet could have excelled Shakspeare in this 
respect ? Who, to use a Baconian expression, could 
have depicted man and his passions more " ad 
vivum"? According to Bacon, the poets and 
historians give us copies of characters; and the 
outlines of these images — the simple strokes that 
determine characters — are the proper objects of 
ethical science. Just as physical science requires 
a dissection of bodies, that their hidden qualities 
and parts may be discovered ; so should ethics pe- 
netrate the various minds of men, in order to find 
out the internal basis of them all. And not only 
this foundation, but likewise those external con- 
ditions which give a stamp to human character 
— all those peculiarities that " are imposed upon 
the mind by the sex, by the age, by the region, 
by health and sickness, by beauty and deformity, 
and the like, which are inherent and not external ; 
and, again, those which are caused by external 
fortune,"! — should come within the scope of 

* " Advancement of Learning," ii. " De Augment. Seient.'' 
vii. a. 

f "Advancement of Learning," ii. For the whole passage 
compare " De Augment. Seient." vii. 3. 


ethical philosophy. In a word, Bacon would have 
man studied in his individuality as a product of 
nature and history, in every respect determined by 
natural and historical influences, by internal and 
external conditions. And exactly in the same 
spirit has Shakspeare understood man and his 
destiny; regarding character as the result of a 
certain natural temperament and a certain his- 
torical position, and destiny as a result of cha- 
racter. The great interest that Bacon took in 
portraits of character, is proved by the fact that 
he attempted to draw them himself. With a 
few felicitous touches he sketched the characters 
of Julius and Augustus Cassar, and his view of 
both was similar to that of Shakspeare. In Ju- 
lius Csesar he saw combined all that the Roman 
genius had to bestow in the shape of greatness, 
nobility, culture, and fascination, and regarded 
his character as the most formidable that the 
Roman world could encounter. And giving what 
always serves as the proof of the calculation in the 
analysis of a character ; Bacon so explains the 
character of Csesar, as to explain his fate also. 
He saw, like Shakspeare, that Cassar was natu- 
rally inclined to a despotic feeling, that governed 
his great qualities and also their aberrations, ren- 
dering him dangerous to the Republic and blind 
with respect to his enemies. He wished says 
p 2 


Bacon, " not to be eminent amongst great and 
deserving men, but to be chief amongst inferiors 
and vassals."* He was so much dazzled by his 
own greatness that he no longer knew what 
danger was. This is the same Caesar into whose 
mouth Shakspeare puts the words — 

" Danger knows full well 

That Cfflsar is more dangerous than he. 
We were two lions litter'd in one day, 
And I the elder and more terrible." 

Julius Ccesar, Act II. Sc. 2. 

When Bacon, at last, attributes the fate of 
Cassar to his forgiveness of enemies, that by 
this magnanimity he might impose upon the 
multitude, he still shows the dazzled man, who 
heightens the expression of his greatness at the 
expense of his security. 

It is very characteristic that among human 
passions Bacon best understands avarice and am- 
bition, and least understands love, which he ranks 
very low. Love was as foreign to his nature as 
lyrical poetry ; but in one single case he perceived 
its tragic importance, and this very case was 
developed by Shakspeare into a tragedy. " You 
may observe," says Bacon, "that amongst all 

* Compare Bacon's " Civil Character of Julius Ciesar," which, 
as well as the " Civil Character of Augustus," exists both in 
English and Latin. 


the great and worthy persons, there is not one 
that hath been transported to the mad degree of 
love, which shows that great spirits and great 
business do keep out this weak passion. You 
must except, nevertheless, Marcus Antonius."* 
He has already said that love is " sometimes like 
a siren, sometimes like a fury," and it may be 
truly observed with respect to Cleopatra, as con- 
ceived by Shakspeare, that she appears to Marc 
Antony in both these capacities. 

* Essay " On Love." 

p 3 




Having fully ascertained the point of view 
which Bacon opposes to all p receding Philosophy, 
and which he establishes as his own, we now 
describe from the same point the scientific horizon 
of the Baconian mind. His philosophy is a com- 
pletely new edifice, raised on foundations and 
directed towards ends totally different from those 
of all theories that have gone before. With 
these he has so little in common that he does not 
even build upon their ruins. Bacon leaves the 
old edifices of philosophy standing, when he has 
shown how insecure they are, and how little 
suited for the habitation of man. On a soil 
that has hitherto been unoccupied, and with 
instruments that have never yet been used, he 
will build altogether anew. The instrument 
that he employs is the " Novum Organum ;" 
the ground-plan, according to which he proceeds. 


IS composed of the books " De Dignitate et Aug- 
mentis Scientiarum," * which form, as it were, 
the new map of the " Globus Intellectualis ;" 
the whole edifice itself he calls the " Instanratio 
Magna." This edifice is not to be restored, but to 
be entirely new. We know already the plan and 
the instrument ; we have now only to learn the 
arrangement in detail. The harmonious plan 
which is visible through the whole, is formed by 
a mind directed to new discoveries and inventions, 
that finds it cannot reside in any philosophical 
edi6ce, except a science based upon experience of 
the world, and using no means but experiment ; 
a mind, whose experience and science are directed 
to nature above everything. The " Instauratio 
Magna," therefore, consists of four principal 
parts : the ground-plan, the Organum, the ex- 
perimental history of nature (^Historia Naturalis 
et Experimentalis), the objects of which are the 
phenomena of the universe {Phenomena Universi), 
and the science raised on these foundations. To 
adhere to our simile, we may call the two last 
portions the upper stories in the pyramid of phi- 
losophy, of which the description of the world is 
the lowest, and science is the highest. These 

» And more briefly set forth in the English treatise, " On the 
Advancement of Learning." — J. 0. 
p 4 


two stories are connected by the " ladder of the 
understanding," which leads upwards from expe- 
rience to science ( Scala Intellectus sive Filum La- 
byrinthi), and by certain anticipations, deduced 
not from Idols, but from sound experience, — 
precursory theories {Prodromi sive Anticipationes 
PhilosophicB Secund(B), to which the investigator 
is impelled by experience, and which have only 
a provisional value, being always subject to the 
corrections of science. They are distinguished 
from objectionable anticipations by the perfect 
consciousness that they are only precursory, not 
conclusive. The following, therefore, are the 
divisions of the " Instauratio Magna :" — 

1. De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum. 

2. Novumi Organum, 

3. Historia Naturalis et Experimentalis. 

4. Scala Intellectus, 

5. Prodromi sive Anticipationes Philosophise 


6. Scientia Activa. 

Of these divisions, the first, which forms the 
ground plan of the whole, is alone complete ; the 
rest are mere sketches or fragments. Even of the 
" Novum Organum," the first part alone is exe- 
cuted ; the second was to comprise the aids to the 
understanding, but of these he has only specified 


one*, with which we are already acquainted, and 
ha3 given a mere prospective view of the rest. 
The most complete work belonging to the third 
division is the " Sllva Silvarum ; or. Natural His- 
tory in Ten Centuries." It would, however, be 
very unreasonable to make the fragmentary condi- 
tion of his philosophy a cause of reproach against 
Bacon, — as this would be reproaching him for 
not living several hundred years. Separate parts 
of the edifice might doubtless have been more 
thoroughly completed if Bacon could have be- 
stowed more time upon them. But the whole 
could not remain otherwise than unfinished, 
consistently with the plan of the founder, whose 
design was to make not a system, but a beginning. 
And this beginning, so rich in consequences. 
Bacon did make ; in this sense he has completed 
his work, and would have completed it, even if he 
had not written nearly so much as now lies before 
us. The power that was to break open a new path, 
lay in the new outline and the new instrument 
(Organum), and to increase this power there was 
no need of a " Silva Silvarum." He himself was 
but too well aware that time, in its progress, 
destroys systems of philosophy, to all appear- 
ance firmly established and hermetically closed, 

* The " Prerogative Instance," with its subdivisions. — J. 0. 


Hence, from the beginning, it was his intention 
to produce a philosophy which would progress 
with time, not endure in spite of it ; and, perhaps, 
among all philosophers, Bacon has been the only 
one who, far from endeavouring to resist the 
stream of time, has designed a work so light that 
the stream will always carry it along. Such a 
work could not be a system, a concluded whole, 
an unwieldy edifice; it could not remain other- 
wise than a fragment, — an attempt that had 
scarcely proceeded beyond the plan and the in- 
strument. The fragment was to be enlarged, the 
attempt was to be pursued, the plan was to be 
carried out, the instrument was to be used and 
improved. This fragmentary appearance of his 
philosophy appears quite consistent — nay, the 
necessary result of its own internal condition, as 
soon as it is regarded from the Baconian point of 
view. Through these very gaps in the philo- 
sophy, which the depreciators of Bacon's philo- 
sophy point out, comes a wholesome current of 
air, for which he has purposely left room. There 
are many contradictions in his theories — though 
not so many, by far, as our pretended critics 
would fain discover; — there are many inaccu- 
racies in point of fact, and many physical errors, 
which Bacon shared in common with his age, but 
we may make allowance for all these contradic- 


tions, inaccuracies, and errors, without diminish- 
ing by 80 much as a hair's breadth the force and 
power of the Baconian philosophy. This power 
has been proved by history. The incompleteness 
of the work was perceived, — nay, intended, by 
Bacon himself. At the conclusion of his ground- 
plan*, which we may appropriately call a " New 
Encyclopaedia of the Sciences, " he says : " I call 
to mind that reply of Themistocles, who, when 
the ambassador from a petty town had spoken very 
largely, rebuked him with the remark, ' Friend, 
your words require a state.' In the same manner 
I think it may be most rightly objected to me that 
my words require an age for their fulfilment, and 
I answer again, 'Yes, perhaps a whole age to 
prove them; but many ages to fulfil them.'"f 

By its very nature the Baconian philosophy 
could take no other form than that of a sketch, 
could express itself in no other mode than that of 
the Encyclopedia and the Aphorism. All the 
parts of his great " Instauratio " have remained 
sketches ; the two that he most thoroughly per- 

* The treatise " De Angmentis." — J. 0. 

f " Interim in mentem mihi yenit responsum illud The- 
mistoclis, qui cum ex oppido parvo legatus quidam magna 
nonnulla perorasset, hominem perstrinxit ; Amice, verba tua 
civitatem desiderant. Certe objici mihi rectissime posse exis- 
timo, quod mea verba sseculum desiderent ; sseculum forte ad 
probandum ; complura autem ssecula ad perficiendum." — De 
Augment. Scient. ix. 


fected and elaborated are the chief of them all, 
— the outline and the Organum ; of which the 
former consists of an encyclop^dian and pro- 
spective view of human knowledge, the latter of 
aphorisms. Altogether Bacon has less necessity 
for a finished than for a comprehensive mode of 
expression. His larger works, such as those 
on the " Advancement of Learning " and the 
" Novum Organum," were not completed but 
only enlarged outlines. The two books of his 
" Encyclopedia," which first appeared in the 
English language*, were extended by Bacon into 
nine, " De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum." 
His treatise entitled " Cogitata et Visa," was en- 
larged into the " Novum Organum." Far from 
filling up or completing these enlarged outlines. 
Bacon much more sought to reduce them to a 
smaller compass. Thus his " Descriptio Globi 
Intellectualis " is an encyclopaedia on a diminished 
scale ; and In the " Delineatio et Argumentum " 
we have the most compressed form of the " Novum 

Unquestionably the " Novum Organum " is 
the ripest and most peculiar fruit of the Baconian 
mind. If that treatise, which Bacon entitled 
" Temporis partus maximus," was really the first 
sketch of it, more than twenty years elapsed 

* The " Advancement of Learning." — J. 0. 


before the programme of the " Organum " ap- 
peared in the " Cogitata et Visa/' and it was not 
till after an interval of eight years that the pro- 
gramme was followed by the " Organum " itself. 
Thus the " Organum " of Bacon was developed 
as slowly as Locke's " Essay on the Human 
Understanding," and with as much circumspection 
as Kant's " Critique of Pure Reason." Not 
merely the contents, but also the form in which 
the book is composed, required a long and 
thorough preparation. We have already said 
that the form is aphoristic, and Bacon himself 
in his Encyclopaedia, when, in connection with 
rhetoric, he is treating of the art of scientific 
exposition, declares that the aphoristic form of 
instruction, if it is not altogether artificial, miist 
be drawn from the very depth and marrow of the 
sciences, and presupposes a store of the pro- 
foundest knowledge. "VYhen Bacon wrote thus, 
he had, doubtless, his " Organum " in his mind, 
though he did not, as on other occasions, expressly 
cite it. 

Those who have endeavoured to convey an idea 
of Bacon have aU disregarded one point, which is 
important in forming a judgment respecting this 
philosopher ; they have neglected to draw a critical 
comparison between his Encyclopsedia and his 
" Organum." Such an inquiry would contribute 


much towards the solution or explanation of those 
contradictions which are too readily heaped upon 
Bacon. The expressions of a philosopher are 
not to be taken and thrown together at random, 
but to be judged according to the place in which 
they are found. A difference as to the time 
when, and the purpose for which, certain works 
were composed, may often explain a difference 
of opinion. As for the Encyclopaedia and the 
" Novum Organum," they differ as to time, form, 
and tendency. The first sketch of the Encyclo- 
paedia appeared several years earlier than the 
first sketch of the " Organum," and fifteen before 
the " Organum " itself ; the enlarged Encyclo- 
paedia appeared two years after the " Organum." 
In the mind of Bacon both works proceed, as it 
were, side by side, and there is a reciprocal rela- 
tion between them ; the " Organum " in many 
points manifestly relying on the Encyclopsedia, 
and the Encyclopaedia referring to the " Or- 
ganum " as the new logic which it requires. We 
must here distinguish accurately between the 
time of conception and that of execution. Doubt- 
less the conception of the " Organum " was in 
Bacon's mind before that of the Encyclopaedia ; 
on the other hand, the execution of the " Or- 
ganum" was slower and more elaborate, and there- 
fore appeared later, than the first encyclopaedical 


sketch. The " OrganunOj" in the shape in which 
it comes down to us, bears the purest and most dis- 
tinct impress of the Baconian philosophy. The in - 
strument which Bacon long possessed, and which, 
undoubtedly, he first sought, here appears sharp- 
ened and pointed to the highest degree. The 
whole destructive side [pars destruens) of the 
Baconian philosophy is, therefore, most conspi- 
cuous in the " Organum," — far less cloaked than 
in the Encyclopaedia. It may also be remarked that 
the second form of the Encyclopaedia (the nine 
books "De Augmentis"), in many respects (as for 
example, in the estimation of the mathematics), 
passes far more negative judgments than the 
first English sketch ("On the Advancement of 
Learning"), the later work being nearer to the 
"Organum" than the earlier one. Hence, we 
may conclude that, at the time of the first sketch 
of the Encyclopaedia, the Baconian "Organum" 
was far less highly elaborated ; and hence, ge- 
nerally, we may regard the whole Baconian phi- 
losophy in reference to the "Organum;" for it 
is preceded by the conception, governed by the 
execution, and guided by the rule, of this one 
work. By this principle our own exposition of 
Bacon is determined. 

If we compare the Encyclopaedia with the 
" Organum," we find in the two the same 


Baconian mind at different periods of time, and 
occupied with different problems. The purpose 
of an Eneyclopaedia is to build up ; a doctrine 
of method has to sweep away obstacles. In the 
former, the magazine of the human mind is to 
be filled; by the latter, the threshing-floor is to 
be swept out. In the one case the problem is 
material, in the other it is formaL Critics have 
discovered a multitude of contradictions and anti- 
nomies* in the Baconian philosophy, because 
he denies in one place what he has affirmed 
in another. Among these antinomies, many 
are certainly so composed that the!* thesis may 
be found in the encyclopaedian works, the 
antithesis in the " Novum Organum." A com- 
parative criticism would, however, easily explain 
these contradictions, that are not so stubborn to 
the quick and supple mind of Bacon, as they 
appear to others. He often merely tolerates what 
he seems to affirm. He would not always anni- 
hilate what he denies. Indeed, it may be said of 
the Baconian expressions generally, that they are 
never so unconditional and unyielding as to render 
all retractation impossible, whether affirmative 

* The word " antinomy" has been commonly used by German 
pliilosophers since the time of Kant to denote the contradiction 
between two propositions, of which one affirms what the other 
denies.— J. 0. 


or negative. I cannot here enter into a very minute 
comparison of the two chief works, but I will, in 
a few words, indicate the chief points of diflference. 
Taken altogether, the " Novum Organum" ex- 
presses the negative side of the Baconian philo- 
sophy more clearly and decisively than the work 
" De Augmentis." All these negatives may be 
traced back to one principle ; they are all results 
of the physical point of view which occupies the 
centre of the Baconian philosophy, and would 
hold the hegemonia in the region of science. 
From this point of view the Baconian philosophy 
opposes, in the most uncompromising manner, 
Aristotle, scholasticism, metaphysics, and the- 
ology. Now in the "Novum Organum " the phy- 
sical view prevails far more exclusively, — makes 
itself much more prominent than in the books on 
the advancement of science, where it is satisfied 
with a single province. In these, therefore, the 
anti- Aristotelian and anti-scholastic tendency, as 
well as the opposition to religion and theology, 
are kept more in the background. In the work 
"De Augmentis" may be found several instances 
of respect for Aristotle ; there is scarcely one in 
the " Novum Organum." In the latter the asser- 
tion is frequently and always emphatically made, 
that physics are the foundation of all the sciences. 
In the Encyclopasdia, on the other hand, phy- 


sical science acknowledges metaphysics as some- 
thing above itself and below itself, as a foundation 
of all the sciences, a so-called " First Philosophy" 
(pMlosophia prima), of which, as of metaphysics, 
the "Novum Organum" scarcely says a word. 
The opposition between religion and philosophy 
is expressed clearly enough, in many passages of 
the " Novum Organum," whereas, in the work 
"De Augmentis," science with all humility pro- 
fesses its subservience to religion. Thus within 
the limits of philosophy there is a so-called "na- 
tural theology," for which a certain scientific 
rank is claimed ; whereas the " Organum" makes 
it the reproach of the Plartonic philosophy, that 
it perverts science by natural theology. If Ba- 
conism were strictly a system, these contradic- 
tions and antinomies would be of more weight 
than they are where no system is contemplated, 
but merely the commencement of a new and 
broadly planned cultivation, — an instrument, a 
guide. From its genetic development, which is 
ever progressive, the contradictory expressions 
may be easily explained. Bacon's development 
was different from that which we are accustomed to 
find in German philosophers. His view gradually 
became not more positive, but more negative, 
and attained its culminating point in the "No- 
vum Organum." At this point Bacon could 


say, " I stand alone ; " whereas in his encyclopte- 
dian works he departed more cautiously from 
the Aristotelian traditions, although the wiU to 
abandon them altogether is to he plainly seen 
even there. That this caution partly arose from 
a regard to the theologically minded king to 
whom Bacon dedicated his work, I will not 
venture to deny, for Bacon was exactly the man 
to be influenced by considerations of the kind. 
However, such explanations are at best supple- 
mentary, and of only secondary value ; nay, they 
are not even satisfactory as far as they go, since 
the " Novum Organum " was published during the 
reign of the same sovereign. Bacon's French 
adversaries would especially like to exhibit him 
as a mere courtier, even in philosophy, — conceal- 
ing his own views to suit those of the king. But, 
in spite of many contradictions. Bacon has ex- 
pressed his own ideas so plainly and unreservedly 
that no thinking person could feel any doubt as 
to his intentions. 

Admitting the points of diiFerence between 
Bacon's two principal works, we still find that, 
above them both, the " Instauratio Magna" stands 
as a high point from which both may be surveyed 
in common. Wherever contradictions occur, they 
are never too absurd to admit of an explana- 
tion, never so diflScult as to render the discovery 
« 2 


of Bacon's real thought impossible. Nor are the 
differences so great as to destroy the unity of his 
philosophy. The renovation of science; — this 
is the one object of his Encyclopaedia and his 
" Organum ; " and contemplating this he describes, 
in the latter, a new method of scientific investi- 
gation, while in the former he surveys and sorts 
his scientific material. He arranges the depart- 
ments, connects them with each other, and points 
out those regions in the realm of human science 
which still lie fallow, and are now to be cultivated. 
As Columbus, by his discoveries, altered the map 
of the earth, so does Bacon alter the map of 
science, by dividing, and at the same time extend- 
ing its dominion. Finding new arrangements 
and new problems for science, he becomes at once 
its geographer and discoverer. In both these 
innovations the principal characteristics of his 
mind are apparent, namely, the tendency after a 
complete whole, and the impulse to new disco- 
veries, which constitutes, in fact, the real impulse 
of his philosophy. The tendency towards a 
whole seeks a science that comprises and copies 
the world ; and with this intention Bacon seeks 
a complete division of human science, an ency- 
clopsedian outline. The impulse towards new dis- 
coveries makes him look out everywhere for the 
unsolved problems of science ; that same impulse 


that caused Columbus to miss a portion of the 
earth, and therefore carried him across the ocean, 
also takes possession of the mind of Bacon, and 
compels him to miss and discover so many por- 
tions of the globus intellectualis. Thus his en- 
cyclopaedian outline becomes at the same time 
a book of desiderata in science. 

It is perfectly clear to us how this aspiring 
mind, so athirst for knowledge, first conceived the 
formal, and first solved the material problems 
among those which he had proposed. What 
Bacon first beheld was the material condition of 
the sciences, in which he missed so much; and, 
above all, connection, completeness, and a right 
disposition of parts. It is clear to him that 
science ought to be a copy of the real world ; 
and, compared with this real world, the copy 
which Bacon saw before him in the actual 
science of his day was most dissimilar, frag- 
mentary, and defective. The fragments were 
to be united, the gaps to be filled, and the copy 
of the world thus rendered complete. This task 
was first to be accomplished, and Bacon made 
the attempt in his treatise on the " Advancement 
of Learning." Here, indeed, a new method, a 
new scientific path was requisite, and this could 
be no other than experience conformed to nature. 
But Bacon had to make a practical trial of this path 

Q 3 


himself before he could describe it, and show it 
to others. We can easily understand that Bacon 
employed his method before he revealed it, that 
it was his instrument before it was his object, but 
that this instrument was not brought to its highest 
degree of elaboration till Bacon made it the ob- 
ject of a special exhibition — which he did in the 
" JTovum Organum." 

With Bacon, missing and seeking are identical. 
In order to find, we must seek rightly. In his 
Encyclopaedia, Bacon sought for all that he 
missed in the actual state of science, and ia the 
" Novum Organum " he described the right man- 
ner of search. What he first missed was a con- 
nection between the individual sciences ; what he 
first sought, therefore, was science as a whole, the 
parts of which should be continuously connected, 
so that none of them should exist sundered and 
separate from the rest. Bacon wished to awaken 
life in science. Hence, above all, he had to 
fashion a body capable of life ; that is to say, an 
organisation in which no part should be wanting, 
and all the parts of which should be properly 
connected. That sterility of all previous science, 
which had made so painful an impression on the 
mind of Bacon, was greatly caused by the isolated 
condition in which the individual sciences were 
placed, barred from all communication and inter- 


course with each other. Combination must be as 
fruitful as isolation is sterile. Even a survey of 
the sciences advances scientific culture, and facili- 
tates communication, A perfect division shows 
wherein science, as a whole, is yet defective, — 
indicates what is not yet known, and then incites 
the scientific mind to new achievements. Lastly, 
an encyclopsedian arrangement brings the indi- 
vidual sciences into contact, so that they may be 
compared together, and rectify and fertilise each 
other. On this point Bacon makes a remarkable 
declaration : " Generally let this be a rule, that 
all partitions of knowledges be accepted rather 
for lines and veins, than for sections and separa- 
tions ; and that the continuance and entireness 
of knowledge be preserved. For the contrary 
hereof hath made particular sciences to become 
barren, shallow, and erroneous, while they have 
not been nourished or maintained from the 
common fountain."* 

Bacon's design was to have exhibited the 
sciences connected into one whole. His Ency- 
clopaedia is an attempted system, but to be 
appreciated it should be inspected by the eyes, 
not of a system-builder, but of an encyclopaedist. 
The man of system will often make the correct 

* " Advancement of Learning," Book II. There is a parallel 
passage in " De Augmentis," IV, 1, 


objection that Bacon's divisions are not very 
accurate, and that the connection he would 
establish is often loose and arbitrary. The 
principle of division is new, but the rules by 
which it is effected are those of ordinary logic. 
If we distinguish the man of system from the 
encyclopaedist, we find that the latter will be 
satisfied with a mere co-ordination of scientific 
material, while the former desires an internal 
connection. The encyclopedist seeks, above all, 
to make his materials complete, and therefore he 
chooses that form which most favours and ensures 
completeness. If this form neither is nor can be 
systematic, he chooses the aggregative, and no 
aggregative form so well ensures completeness of 
material as the alphabetic. Now an alphabetic 
encyclopaedia is a dictionary, and if an encyclo- 
psedia cannot or will not be a real system, it must 
become a dictionary. The Baconian Encyclopsedia 
was not a system, in the strict sense of the word, 
but a mere logical aggregate. Like the Baco- 
nian philosophy generally, it had no aptitude or 
propensity to become a system. Hence, as it 
progressed it became a dictionary, and the alpha- 
betical form was substituted for the logical. The 
further progression is to be found first in Bayle's 
Critico-historical Dictionary, and afterwards in 
the French Encyclopaedia of Diderot and d'Alem- 


bertj who in their preface refer to Bacon, espe- 
cially to his treatise on the "Advancement of 
Learning." The French Encyclopaedia — that 
magazine of the so-called " enlightenment" {Auf- 
Marung) — may be traced back to Bacon, not only 
as the founder of realistic philosophy in general, 
but also as the first encyclopasdist of this tendency. 
However, the distinction between Bacon and the 
French encyclopaedists consists not merely in the 
circumstance that one employs the logical form, 
the other the alphabetical, but likewise in the 
different relation in which the two parties stood 
with respect to science. Diderot and d'Alem- 
bert reaped where Bacon had sown. The former 
renovated philosophy, the latter collected what 
the new philosophy had produced. Bacon had 
chiefly to do with problems; the French encyclo- 
paedists with results; they registered the acts (acta) 
of philosophy, whereas Bacon had discovered in 
his time what was yet to be done. His books on 
the advancement of science were, as d'Alembert 
says, a " catalogue immense de ce qui reste i 




The principle according to which Bacon divides 
the intellectual world {globus intellectualis) is 
psychological. He distinguishes the scientific, as 
Plato does the political classes, according to the 
faculties of the human soul. As many faculties 
as we have to copy, and reproduce the real world, 
as many various images of the world as are possible 
to the human mind, into so many parts may the 
total intellectual image of the world be divided. 
Our faculties in this respect are memory (as a re- 
taining perception), imagination, and reason ; con- 
sequently there is a copy of the world referable to 
memory (or experience) ; an imaginary copy, and a 
rational copy; the purely empirical copy is History, 
the imaginary is Poetry, the rational is Science, 
in the confined sense of the word. Of poetry — 
which compared with history is " fiction," compared 
with science a " dream" — we have already treated. 
History and science, the other two principal 
divisions referable to the world-knowing intellect. 


which bear the same relation to each other that 
memory bears to reason, still remain to be dis- 
cussed. The human mind rises from sensuous 
perception to rational thought ; here the method 
and the Encyclopaedia of Bacon follow the same 


Contains the copy of the events of the world, 
collected by experience and preserved in the 
memory. Since the world comprises the king- 
doms of nature and of man, so may the history of 
the world be divided into natural {historia na- 
turalis) and civil history (historia civilis). The 
works of nature are either free, when they are 
produced by natural forces alone, or they are 
unfree, when they likewise depend on human 
industry. The free products may be either 
regular or anomalous ; the former are called by 
Bacon " generationes^^ the latter " prcBtergenera- 
tiones." The artificial works of nature are me- 
chanical. Hence natural history may be divided 
into the " historia generationum, praetergenera- 
tionum" and " mechanica." The last would be a 
history of Technology, which Bacon misses, and 
therefore requires, as well as a history of natural 
malformations. The series of regular natural 


products is followed by Bacon (after the model of 
the ancients) from the highest down to sublunary 
regions. He begins with the heavenly bodies, 
and from them descends to meteors and atmo- 
spherical phenomena, such as winds, rain, weather, 
temperature, &c. ; from these he descends fur- 
ther to earth and sea, the elements or general 
constituents of matter*, and finally to specific 

The description of these objects may be either 
merely narrative or methodical. The latter is 
regarded even here with attentive interest by 
Bacon ; even here he commends the inductive 
description of nature as the path by which the 
materials of natural history are brought to philo- 
sophy. " The merely narrative description is 
less to be esteemed than induction, which offers 
the first breast to philosophy."* This proposition 
sufficiently proves our assertion, that the notion 
of a new method and the wish to realise it were in 
Bacon's mind before his encyclopsdian attempts. 
But a natural history so composed as to be con- 
ducive to science is the very thing that is missed 
by Bacon, and he endeavours to fill up the gap 
by a number of separate treatises, f 

* " Allgemeine materien." — J. 0. This is an abbreviated form 
of a proposition that occurs in " De Augmentis," II. 3. 

t Comprising " Parasceve ad Historiam Faturalem et Experi- 
mentalem ; Historia Ventorum ; Historia Vitse et Mortis ; Thema 


Human communities may be divided into state 
and church; the history of mankind is conse- 
quently divided into historia ecclesiastica et 
civilis — the latter in the narrow sense of the 
word. Between the two, however. Bacon ob- 
serves a gap, which to him is, of course, a problem. 
There is not yet a history of literature and art. 
For the solution of this problem Bacon cannot, 
indeed, cite any example; but, by way of pre- 
scribing for the deficiency, he has written a few 
words, which could not be properly appreciated 
before the present day, as it is only of late that 
we have begun to supply it. His prescription 
is as valuable now as at the time when it was 
written. The mere desire for a history of litera- 
ture and art, expressed by the lips of newly 
awakened philosophy among the innovating 
plans of a Bacon, is of itself surprising; still 
more so is the exactness with which he states 
how he would have his plan carried out. What 
is literature but a copy of the state of the 
world in the human mind? What, then, is the 
history of literature but a copy of this copy of 
the world? For this very reason we are sur- 
prised at the postulate in the mouth of Bacon. 
That realistic intellect was so exclusively directed 

Coeli ; De Fluxu et Kefluxu Maris ; Silva Silvarum, sive Historia 


to the copy of the world, that we are astonished 
to find him regarding a copy of that copy as a 
desideratum. This can alone be explained from 
the extremely realistic view which Bacon took of 
human aifairs. He prized literature according to 
its real* worth, he remarked its real connection 
with human life as a whole, and wished therefore 
to see it exhibited as a matter of universal and 
political history. He regarded literature and art 
as the members most full of soul f throughout the 
entire organisation of human culture ; these show 
the image of the world as it is reflected in the 
eye of the human mind. Thus, speaking of 
literary history, he says : " Without this the 
history of the world seemeth to me to be as 
the statue of Polyphemus with his eye out." 
Literature is always the mirror of its age, and 
in this sense forms a part of universal histo- 
ry. Now there is not as yet the universal his- 
tory of literature ; and in this sense he sets it 
down as a scientific desideratum. Respecting 
the separate departments of science, as mathe- 
matics, philosophy, rhetoric, &c., there are, in- 
deed, some historical notices, but there is no tie 
to connect these detached and scattered frao-ments 

* As opposed to ideal.— J. O. " Advancement of Learning,' 
II. Also " De Augment." II. 4. 
t " SeelenvoU."— J. 0. 


into one whole, no general historical picture of 
human science and art. It is not enough to know 
the antecedents of each science separately. There 
is a connection between all the literary works of 
an age, and also a pragmatic connection between 
the successive ages of a series. " The sciences," 
Bacon happily says, "migrate like nations."* 
Literary history should describe successive ages, 
observe epochs, pursue the course of the sciences 
from their first beginning to their bloom and 
their decadence ; show how they have been 
first called forth, cultivated, then gradually suf- 
fered to wither, and finally animated anew. In 
this course the destinies of literature are closely 
combined with those of nations. There is a causal 
connection, — a reciprocal action between literary 
and political life, — and to this important point 
Bacon urgently directs the attention of the his- 
torian. Literature is to be shown in its natural 
character, as affected by the peculiarities of the 
people whose life it is to represent. "Works of 
literature are always influenced by the climate, 
the natural peculiarities and dispositions, the good 
and evil fortunes, the moral, religious, and poli- 
tical condition of the people among whom they 
are produced. Hence the theme of literary his- 
tory is the general state of literature at different 

' " Migrant scientise non secus ac populi." — De Aug. 11. 4, 


periods, viewed in connection with that of pohtics 
and religion. In other words. Bacon regards 
literature as a portion of the aggregate culture of 
humanity; would have the history of literature 
and art treated as a history of cultivation.* And 
in what spirit, in what form does he desire that 
this history should be written ? " The themes of 
history," he says, " should not be so treated that 
time is lost in praise and blame, after the fashion 
of the critics, but events themselves should be 
narrated just as they occurred, with a more 
sparing introduction of opinion. With respect 
to the manner of preparing such a history, we 
recommend above all that its matter should not 
be sought exclusively from historians and critics, 
but that through successive centuries (or shorter 
periods), beginning from the remotest antiquity, 
the principal works composed in the course of 
each should be consulted ; and that, though these 
works could not be read through (for that would 
be an infinite labour), they should be so tasted, 
and their argument, style, and method should be 
so observed, that the genius of their age should 
be waked from the dead as if by some incan- 
tation." I 

* Dr. Fischer refers to Gervinus's " History of German Litera- 
ture," as a specimen of a history composed after this model. J. O. 

t " At hasc omnia traotari prscipimus, ut nou criticorum more 
in laude et censnra tempas teratur ; sed plane historice res ipss 


To political history also does Bacon, in the 
fertile spirit of his philosophy, propose new 
problems and prescribe new objects. History, 
like all science, is based upon experience; and 
to experience the nearest objects are particulars, 
the nearest field is its own intuition. Hence 
Bacon rightly attaches so much importance to 
particular histories, memoirs, and biographies, as 
opposed to universal histories, which, in most 
cases, are without the guidance of experience, 
and are less easily comprehensible as to subject- 
matter, while they are proportionably deficient 
in liveliness and fidelity. Most just is Bacon's 
remark on the subject of universal history : " If 
we more accurately weigh the matter, we shall 
find that the laws of proper history are so severe 
that it is hardly possible to apply them in 
treating of so vast an argument; so that the 
majesty of history is rather diminished than in- 

narrentur, judicium parcins interponatur. De modo autem 
hujusmodi historise conficiendae, illud inprimis monemus ; ut 
materia et copia ejus non tantum ab historiis et criticis petatur, 
Terum etiam ut per singulas annorum centurias, aut etiam minora 
intervalla, seriatim (ab ultima antiquitate facto principio) libri 
prseclpui qui per ea temporis spatia conscripti sunt in consilium 
adhibeantur ; ut ex eorum non perlectione (id enim infinitum 
quiddam esset) sed degustatione, et observatione argument!, stili, 
methodi, Genius illius temporis liiterarius veluti incantatione 
quadam a mortals evocetur." — De Augm, II. 4. 



creased by the magnitude of its material. For it 
will naturally happen that he who pursues such 
various subjects in every direction, becoming 
less and less scrupulous in the research, and 
his diligence being weakened as to details by the 
variety to which it is extended, will eagerly catch 
at popular rumour and compose history from 
traditions of no great authenticity, and such like 
flimsy material. Moreover, he will find it ne- 
cessary (if he would have his work increase to 
an infinite extent) deliberately to pass over many 
things worthy of record, and frequently to fall 
into the manner of epitomes. There is also an- 
other danger by no means trifling, and directly 
opposed to the utUity of history ; namely this, that 
whereas universal history preserves some narra- 
tives that otherwise, perchance, would perish, it 
frequently, for the sake of that popular com- 
pendiousness, destroys others of great profit that 
might otherwise have lived."* On the other 

* " Veruntamen, si quis rem rectius perpendat, animadrertet 
tam sevevas esse Historise Juste leges, ut eas in tanta argument! 
vastitate exercere vik liceat ; adeo ut minnatur potius historise 
majestas molis granditate, quam amplificetur. Tiet enim, ut qui 
tam varia undequaque persequitur, is informationis religione 
paulatim remissa, et diligentia sua, quae ad tot res extenditur, in 
singulis elanguescente, auras populares et rumores captet ; et ex 
relationibus non admodum authenticis, aut hujusmodi aliqua 
levidensi materia, historiam conficiet. Quinetiam necesse ei erit 
(ne opus in immensum excrescat) plurima relatu digna consulto 


hand, the biographies of important persons, spe- 
cial histories, such as those of the Campaign of 
Cyrus, the Peloponnesian War, Catiline's Con- 
spiracy, &c., admit of a lively, true, and artisti- 
cal form of narration, because the subjects are 
thoroughly defined and rounded off. All genuine 
historians, all who know what historical writing 
should be, will agree with Bacon. A mind that 
is truly and artistically historical chooses of its 
own accord only such subjects as it can thoroughly 
master and can distinctly characterise in all their 
parts. Universal history can only result from 
well-grounded special histories, just as, accord- 
ing to Bacon, philosophy can only result from 
experience, and metaphysics from physics. Great 
historians usually begin with monographies and 
special histories, the subjects of which they 
prefer to take from the sphere of their own 
immediate observation. With such thoroughly 
definite and comprehensible materials, the his- 
toriographer can at once display and exercise 
his talent. The historian and the artist are here 

prsetermittere, atque ad epitomarum rationes ssepius delabi. 
Incumbit etiam aliud periculum non parvum, atque utilitati illi 
Historia: XJniTersalis ex diametro oppositum; quemadmodum 
enim Universalis Historia narrationes aliquas, quje alias forte 
fuissent periturse, conservat ; ita contra stepenumero narrationes 
alias satis fructuosas, quae alitor victurse fuissent, propter grata 
mortalibus rerum compendia perimit." — De Augm. 11. 8. 

B 2 


alike. The more indefinite and general the 
subject chosen by the artist, the more lifeless and 
ineffective is his performance. As the subject 
lacks natural vitality, so will the work be with- 
out poetical charm. Now within the sphere of 
historical life nothing is nearer to the historian 
than his own nation. Here he finds a source not 
only in a history conformable to experience, but 
also in his own habitual experience. Hence Ba- 
con recommends the history of the writer's own 
nation as the most lively and interesting theme, 
and his recommendation is not only for the benefit 
of history, but also in conformity with his age. 
It corresponds to the spirit of that reformatory 
principle which in opposition to the middle ages, 
had called forth a national church, a national 
policy, a national literature, and had victoriously 
maintained those powers in England more than in 
any other country. Bacon chose the history of 
his own nation in the newly completed period of 
its national restoration, — the history of England 
from the union of the Eoses under Henry VII. 
to the union of the kingdoms under James I.* 
In his history of the reign of Henry VII. he has 
performed the first part of the task. 

Bacon would have political history as pure 

* Compare "De Angment." IL 7., and "Advancement of 


an exhibition of facts as literary history. As the 
latter should be free from perpetual criticism, so 
should the former from a perpetual display of poli- 
tical views. He points to that class of historians 
who write history for the sake of some parti- 
cular doctrine, and are always returning to cer- 
tain events in order to demonstrate their theory. 
They compare every fact with the doctrine that 
is already in their mind, and their judgment is 
the result of the comparison. If their heads are 
fiUed with some modern ideal of a constitution, 
they will pronounce judgment on Alexander and 
Cjesar accordingly, and inform us that these 
were not constitutional monarchs. We need not 
look far for examples. This intolerable manner 
of writing history is happily termed by Bacon 
" chewing the cud of history," which, he says, is 
allowable to a politician that only uses history as 
a voucher for his doctrines, but not to the real 
historian. " It is ill-timed and tiresome," he con- 
tinues, " to throw in pohtical remarks on every 
occasion, and thus to interrupt the thread of the 
narrative. For although every history of the 
wiser kind is, as it were, impregnated with 
political admonitions and precepts, nevertheless 
the author ought not to be his own midwife." * 

* "Historiam autem Justam ex professo scribenti politica 
ubique ingerere, atque per iUa filum historiae interrumpere, in- 
B 3 



History occupies itself with facts, science with 
causes. The former, according to Bacon, crawls 
upon the ground, but of the fountains of science 
some are situated above, some beneath. For the 
causes of things are either supernatural or natural; 
the former can only be revealed, the latter must 
be investigated. The science of supernatural 
causes is revealed theology, that of natural causes 
is science in a peculiar and more limited sense, — 
or philosophy. Thus is a boundary mark set up 
between theology and philosophy, to which we 
shall afterwards return, and which we shall con- 
sider more completely.* 

Philosophy, then, is the knowledge of things 
from natural causes. The possible objects of our 
knowledge, are God, nature, and our own internal 
essence (Wesen). "We represent to ourselves all 
these objects, but each in a different way, — 
nature alone immediately, God through nature, 
and ourselves through reflection; or to use the 
expression of Bacon, who compares knowledge 

tempestiTum quiddam et molestum est. Licet enim Historia 
quseque prudentior politicis praeceptis et monitis Teluti impreg- 
Tiata sit, tamen scriptor ipse sibi obstetricari non debet." — De 
Augm. II. 10. 
* Compare Chap. X 1. of this work. 


with sight, we perceive ourselves radio reflexo, 
nature radio directo, and God radio refracto* 
Conformably to these several objects, philosophy- 
may be divided into natural theology, natural 
philosophy, and anthropology in the widest sense 
of the word. 

I. Fundamental Philosophy. 


All the knowledge pertaining to philosophy is 
based upon natural causes. Every proposition 
embodying such knowledge is an axiom, f Now, 
are there not certain axioms that are common to 
all sciences, and are equally valid in theology, 
physics, and ethics ? Or, what is the same thing, 
are there not certain attributes that may be pre- 
dicated of everything that falls within the sphere 
of cognition, without a single exception ? If there 
are such axioms, the sum of them manifestly 
constitutes a science, which, though distinguished 
from all the others, is not isolated, for it contains 

* Compare " De Augment." IIL 1. 

t The original cannot be literally rendered, through the 
absence of a plural to the word "knowledge : " " Alle Erkenntnisse 
der Philosophie griinden sich auf natiirlichen Ursachen. Jede 
Erkenntniss aus natiirlichen TJraachen bildet ein Axiom." — 

S 4 


the principles applicable to all alike. It is con- 
sequently the foundation of the others, — Funda- 
mental Philosophy, or, to use the words of Bacon, 
the " common parent " of the sciences. After the 
precedent of the ancients he calls it " philosophia 
prima," adding that it is "the wisdom, which 
was formerly defined as the science of things di- 
vine and human."* This science is not meta- 
physics, such as are to be found with Aristotle. 
Bacon has merely proposed a problem, by way 
of example, without any solution. A systema- 
tic solution he did not even attempt, but he 
regarded the science as something new, and far 
from being in an advanced state, not even dis- 
covered. We must ask ourselves a question, the 
answer to which we find nowhere : " What did 
Bacon intend with his Fundamental Philosophy, 
what did he mean by his philosophia prima? ^^ He 
calls it the parent of all the other sciences ; whereas 
in the " Novum Organum " he gives this name to 
natural philosophy. Here then we find most dis- 
tinctly one of those prominent differences to which 
we have already alluded in our comparison of 
the Organum with the Encyclopaedia. In the 
" Novum Organum " the Fundamental Philosophy 
is scarcely mentioned in the sense attached to it 

* " QuiB olim reram divinarum atque humanarum scientia 
definiebatur." — De Augm, III. 1. 


in the Encyclopaedia*, and only a slight trace is 
left to remind the attentive reader of the earlier 
notion. This is to be found in the remarkable 
passage in the second book, where Bacon, treating 
of natural analogies, touches cursorily upon the 
analogies between the sciences, and uses the very 
examples by which he previously sought to illus- 
trate his idea of the philosophia prima. This fact 
will serve as an index to the truth. Fundamental 
Philosophy, in Bacon's sense of the word, is nothing 
but the idea of analogy applied to the sciences. 
Now, what are natural analogies? The first 
steps that lead to the unity of nature. What, 
in Bacon's sense, is the proposed Fundamental 
Philosophy ? The unity of all the sciences. Ba- 
con seeks this unity by the same method of ana- 
logy. Not on dialectical, but on real grounds, 
should the universal predicates of things (such as 
much and little, like and different, possible and 
impossible, essential and contingent, &c.) be 
determined. And here he unquestionably desig- 
nates analogy as the guiding point of view. For it 
is only by the idea of analogy that the oppositions 
in nature can be reconciled, and things regarded 
as belonging to a graduated series. Only under 
the guidance of this idea, could Bacon determine 
the universal predicates. " There has been 

* Both in the " Adrancement " and " De Augmentis." — J. O. 


much talk about the similar and the different, but 
it has not been sufiSciently considered how nature 
combines both, always uniting different species by 
means of intermediate formations, such as, for 
instances, he introduces between plants and fishes, 
fishes and birds, birds and quadrupeds," &c.* 

If now we consider the matter closely, and — 
what is necessary in all cases, especially with 
Bacon — compare the philosopher with himself, 
we arrive at the following explanation of the 
Fundamental Philosophy projected by Bacon. 
From natural causes there is in all things a 
harmony or a conformity, and therefore a science 
in which all sciences agree. From the point of 
view afforded by analogy the things in their infinite 
variety will appear as degrees of a scale. That the 
aggregate of things, from the humblest of creatures 
to the Deity himself forms a regular ascending 
scale, — this is the profound thought that Bacon 
without doubt entertained, that lay at the basis 
of his Fundamental Philosophy, and that im- 
pelled him to seek analogies everywhere, both in 
things and sciences. Had Bacon more clearly 
seen the import of this thought, reduced it to a 
principle, and pursued it to its consequences ; he 
would have been the English Leibnitz, and not 

• This is not a quotation, but a condensation of a passage 
that occurs in " De Augmentis," III. 1. 


the antipode of Aristotle. For both Aristotle 
and Leibnitz regarded the world as a scale of 
natural formations or entelechies. Nor could even 
Bacon have wished to carry out any other thought 
in a science which he called the parent of the 
rest. It may, too, be repeatedly remarked that 
his opposition to Aristotle recedes more into the 
background, where the idea of a Fundamental 
Philosophy is brought prominently forward, as 
in the books on the advancement of science*, 
whereas this same opposition is most sharply pro- 
minent where the idea of analogy only takes a 
secondary place among the expedients of the 
Baconian method, as in the " Novum Organum." 
It is therefore certain that in the mind of Bacon 
this idea preceded the elaboration of his method ; 
it is certain that the same thought, which, in the 
Encyclopaedia, is to originate a fundamental sci- 
ence, and form an axiom of axioms, was satisfied 
in the "Organum" with the subordinate part 
of an expedient. If Bacon says here that the 
analogies form the first and lowest step towards 
the unity of all things, what other idea could he 
lay at the foundation of a science which, accord- 
ing to his view, was to constitute the trunk of the 
others, — the "first philosophy?" 

* That is, the "Adrancemeiit" and the "De Augmentis." — 
J. O. 


II. Natural Theology 

Seeks to deduce the knowledge of God from 
natural causes ; contemplates him through the 
medium of things, and thus receives but an im- 
perfect and obscure semblance of his true essence, 
seeing his image broken, as we see our own 
when it is reflected in water. Not by the laws 
of nature, but only by the miracles of revelation, 
can God be made manifest in his true preter- 
natural essence. Hence the true knowledge of God 
is not possible by natural, but only by revealed 
theology. Since, then, religion and faith can only 
be based on the true copy of God in man, it fol- 
lows that they completely coincide with revealed 
theology, and have nothing in common with the 
natural. The boundary between revealed and 
natural theology is, with Bacon, a boundary like- 
wise between revelation and nature, religion and 
philosophy, faith and science. This boundary 
science must never overstep, but must remain 
mindful of the words : " Give unto faith what 
is faith's ; " by which Bacon once for all gets rid 
of every possibility of a border-war, and comes to 
a final settlement with faith.* Science can do 

* There is a refinement in the original which can scarcely be 
followed in English. " Sich mit dem Glauben weniger auseinander- 
setzt als abfindet."— J. O. 


religion no positive, but only negative service ; 
it can neither prove nor make religion, but 
only prevent its opposite. Natural philosophy 
cannot found faith, but merely refute infidelity. 
So far does it extend ; no further. It perceives 
the image of God in nature ; which will suffice 
against atheism, but not for religion. If the 
boundary line between religion and philosophy is 
obliterated, if one encroaches on the other, both 
will go astray. Eeligion, when it dabbles with 
science, becomes heterodox ; science, when it 
mixes itself up with religion, becomes fantastical, 
so that, on the one hand, there is a heretical 
religion, and, on the other, a fantastical philo- 
sophy, as inevitable consequences when faith 
and science, revealed and natural theology flow 
into each other. They should be kept apart ; for 
every union leads to confusion on both sides. 
When therefore Bacon, in the first book of his 
work "De Augmentis," tells the king that a 
slight taste from the cup of philosophy may per- 
haps lead to atheism, but that a fuller draught 
will bring back to religion, certainly no such 
virtue lies in the cup of the Baconian philosophy. 
Indeed, Bacon himself was very far from fulfilling, 
in the last of his books, " De Augmentia, " what 
he had promised by that assertion. The maxim*, 

* In the " Adyancement " it stands thus : — "It is an assumed 


which has been quoted over and over again, may 
be set down among those figures of speech that 
always halt, and that should never be quoted in 
earnest, when, as in this case, they are supported 
by nothing deeper. 

III. Natbeai, Philosophy 

Seeks the knowledge of things from natural 
causes, and an apprehension of the effective 
power of nature makes us capable of producing 
similar effects ourselves as soon as the material 
conditions are at our command. The knowledge 
of causes is called by Bacon theoretical or specu- 
lative natural philosophy ; the production of ef- 
fects by our own exertions, practical or operative. 
The former of these is the basis of the latter. 
The former leads from experience to axioms, the 
latter from axioms to inventions ; the direction of 
the former is upwards, that of the latter down- 
wards. In this sense Bacon calls the theoretical 

truth and a conclusion of experience, that a little or superficial 
knowledge of philosophy may incline the mind of man to 
atheism ; but a further proceeding therein doth bring the mind 
back again to religion." In " De Augmentis," thus ; — " Quin 
potius certissimum est, atque experientia comprobatum, leves 
gustus in philosophia moTere fortasse ad Atheismum, sed 
pleniores haustus ad religionem reducere." The figurative mode 
of expression, it will be observed, belongs to the latter only. — 
J. 0. 


natural philosophy, the ascending (ascensoria) ; 
the practical, the descending (descensoria.)* 


Investigates the (natural) causes of things; but 
these causes may be of two kinds, either blind 
(mechanical), efficient causes (causes efficientes), or 
final causes (causas finales). The former are re- 
ferable to (natural or mechanical) causality, the 
latter to teleology, as their respective points of 
view. The former is called by Bacon, " Physique," 
the latter, " Metaphysique. " Thus, with Bacon, 
physics and metaphysics do not differ as to their 
objects, but as to the points of view from which 
they are regarded. Both are natural philosophy ; 
the objects of both are the same natural pheno- 
mena contemplated from different points of view. 
Physics investigate the material of things and 
their efficient forces. Metaphysics the forms of 
things and their fitness to an end. f They con- 
template different sides of the same nature ; the 
former, matter and force ; the latter, form and 

• Compare " De Augment." IIL 3. 

f " Physica est quse inquirit de efficiente et materia ; meta- 
physica quae de forma et fine." — De Augm. in. 4. 



Investigate bodies; — the objects of this science 
are inherent in matter, and therefore transitory. 
Nevertheless the corporeal world is a compound 
vrhole, and this whole consists of an infinite 
variety of individual formations. Unity and 
variety are therefore the two great aspects under 
which nature presents herself as a whole. Her 
unity consists of those elements that are common 
to all bodies, and in the fabric of the universe 
which comprises all bodies; her unity is un- 
folded in individuals, — in the different bodies 
and their peculiarities. Thus Physics are divided 
into three parts, containing the doctrines of ele- 
ments, of the fabric of the universe, and of the 
various bodies. These last are again susceptible 
of a twofold division. They are concrete indivi- 
duals that may be ranged in genera, species, &c., 
and at the same time we find among them certain 
qualities common to many or all of them, such as 
figure, motion, weight, warmth, light, and so on. 
Hence Bacon divides Physics, as the special science 
of bodies, into the concrete and the abstract. 
Concrete physics investigate individual concrete 
bodies, such as plants, animals, &c. ; and abstract 
physics the general physical qualities, such as 
heat, gravity, &c. 


Physics, as such, form a medium between 
natural history and metaphysics. Concrete phy- 
sics border more closely upon natural history, 
abstract physics upon metaphysics. Moreover, 
Physics is subject to the same division* as na- 
tural history, explaining the objects which the 
latter merely describes. Here Bacon misses, 
above all, the Physics of the heavenly bodies. 
There is only a mathematical sketch of their out- 
ward form, no physical theory of their causes and 
effects. We want a physical Astronomy, which 
Bacon, in distinction from the mathematical, calls 
" living " a physical Astrology, which, in distinc- 
tion from superstitious Astrology, he calls "sane." 
By living Astronomy (^Astronornia viva) Bacon 
denotes a right understanding of the grounds 
of the celestial phenomena, the causes of their 
form and motion ; by sane Astrology (^Astrologia 
Sana), a right understanding of the effects and 
influences of the stars upon the earth and earthly 
bodies. These effects are in all cases natural, 
never fatalistic. The heavenly bodies do not 
determine the destinies of the world; — in this 
superstition consists the folly of Astrology, as it 

• That is to say, with regard to the matters treated. "Physica 
autem concreta eandem subit divisionem, qnam historia naturalis ; 
ut sit vel circa Ccelestia, vel circa Meteora, yel circa globiun 
terrae et maris." — De Augm. HI. 4. — J. 0. 



has hitherto existed ; — but they exercise, as in 
the case of the sun and moon, a physical influence 
upon the earth, which is manifested in change of 
season, the tides, &c. Such influences should be 
explained ; we should learn what is the nature 
of their power, what bodies are affected by them, 
and how far their operation extends. 


Investigate the final causes of things, and there- 
fore consist in a teleological interpretation of 
nature. Bacon likes to compare sciences with 
pyramids ; they rise from the broad plain of 
history and experience to laws, which ascend 
higher and higher, until they reach their summit 
in the highest law, as the unity of the whole. 
Natural philosophy may be regarded under this 
image. Its broad base is natural history; then 
come physics, gradually ascending, and the sum- 
mit is formed by metaphysics*, as the science of 
formal and final causes. 

The Baconian metaphysics so far agree with 
the Platonic that they regard the forms of things, 
and so far with the Aristotelian that they give a 
teleological interpretation of nature ; but are dis- 
tinguished from both, inasmuch as they are meant 

* Compare " De Augment." III. 4. ; also " Adrancement," n. 


for nothing more than speculative physics. They 
are not the "fundamental philosophy." In the 
structure of the pyramids Bacon finds a symbol 
for the scale of things : " Everything ascends to 
unity according to a certain scale. " This thought, 
which Bacon considers profound and excellent, 
even in the mouths of Parmenides and Plato, is 
the basis of his " fundamental philosophy," which 
contemplates the scale of all things, whereas meta- 
physics comprehend only that part of it that is 
occupied by the scale of natural things. If sciences 
form scales like things, metaphysics stand at the 
highest degree of physics. 

Bacon draws a distinction between the forms 
and the ends of nature, and makes the explana- 
tion of them the subject of the two departments 
of metaphysics. By " forms " he means nothing 
more than permanent causes. They are efficient 
causes, elevated into the form of universality. 
That which produces heat, in every case, is called 
by Bacon the form of heat. The form of white is 
that which, in every case, causes bodies to appear 
white. Thus the forms of nature, to use the lan- 
guage of Bacon, are the last true diiferences to 
which the conditions of natural phenomena may 
be reduced ; the factors absolutely necessary for 
the qualities of bodies. These qualities are in- 
vestigated by abstract physics, which therefore 

S 2 


border on the region of metaphysics. To speak 
accurately, abstract physics necessarily merge into 
metaphysics ; for they seek the conditions under 
which, in every case, physical qualities are exhi- 
bited. If these conditions are shown, physical 
science has abstracted from the individual bodies, 
and has set up a law without a material substra- 
tum ; that is to say, an incorporeal form. Thus 
it passes into the region of metaphysics. 

But, in the explanation of natural ends, the 
metaphysical is distinguished from the physical 
point of view. The distinction must, according 
to Bacon, be made with the utmost accuracy, and 
most vigorously preserved. That this distinction 
between the metaphysical and physical modes of 
interpretation was not considered before his time 
is, in his eyes, the first indication of scientific 
confusion, which, as he rightly thinks, is the same 
thing as scientific calamity (^philosophica calamitas). 
On this account there was no genuine and fertile 
philosophy of nature. As science generally be- 
comes fantastical when it is mingled with theo- 
logy, so do physics become sterile and impure by 
a mixture with metaphysics. " The excursions of 
final causes," says Bacon, "into the limits of 
physical causes hath bred a vastness and solitude 
in that track."* The purification of physics con- 

• " Advancement." Also " De Augmentis," HI. 4. 


sists in the banishment of final causes to the 
region of metaphysics. The teleological point of 
view is not to be rejected altogether, but merely 
restricted in its application ; it is not even to be 
opposed to the physical point of view, but merely 
kept distinct from it. Neither absolutely excludes 
the other ; indeed they are quite capable of recon- 
ciliation. That which, from one point of view, 
appears as the mere effect of blind powers, — -why 
should it not, from another point, appear useful 
and conducive to an end? No one will deny 
that, in point of fact, the eyelids with their lashes 
serve to protect the eye ; that the hides of beasts, 
by their firmness, act as a guard against heat and 
cold; that the legs serve to support the body. 
But every one can see that explanations of this 
kind are quite out of place in physics; for the 
physical question is not " What is the use of 
eyelashes?" but "Why do hairs grow on this 
particular spot?" "Pilosity is incident to the ori- 
fices of moisture" — such is the physical answer. 
Manifestly it is not the end or aim of moisture to 
provide an expedient for the protection of the 
eyes. Just as little does cold, when it contracts 
the pores of the skin, and then causes its hard- 
ness, purpose to protect animals against the in- 
fluences of temperature. The physical explana- 
tions are very different from the teleological. But 

S 3 


are they therefore contradictory ? Does the cause 
prevent its effect from being useful for some pur- 
pose foreign to the cause ? Till we convert the 
use of the effect into its cause, no confusion arises. 
It is against this confusion that Bacon directs his 
efforts ; to throw a light upon the subject, he 
separates (what should not have been combined) 
the causa efficiens from the causa finalis, the me- 
chanical from the teleological interpretation of 
things, physics from metaphysics. The former 
show a nature conformed to laws, the latter a 
nature conformed to certain ends. The latter 
ultimately points to a fore-seeing intelligence that 
with wise economy guides and orders the blind 
operation of the natural powers ; and thus meta- 
physics afford a prospect, the further pursuit of 
which is left to natural theology. Thus is natural 
theology based upon metaphysics, as metaphysics 
upon physics, and physics upon natural history. 


Is divided into mechanics and natural magic. 
The former are practical physics, the latter prac- 
tical metaphysics or the applied theory of natural 
forms. Bacon under this head misses both theory 
and practice ; he mentions a natural magic, as he 
has already mentioned a " sane astrology," as a 
desideratum. He wished to distinguish the latter 


from superstitious astrology, and in the same 
manner he distinguishes natural magic from the 
ordinary and frivolous sort, with which he classes 
alchemy and other dreams that have amused 
mankind from the earliest ages. Bacon very 
often speaks of the alchemists, especially when 
he means to give an example of the ordinary 
empirists with their uncritical and unmethodical 
way of proceeding. Without having themselves 
pursued a scientific object, they have paved the 
way to physics and chemistry by means of their 
researches. Bacon ingeniously compares them 
with those sons in the fable, whose father be- 
queathed them a treasure in the vineyard for 
which they had to seek. They dug round the 
vineyard without finding the gold, but by their 
researches they had tilled the fertile soil, and the 
harvest proved to be the promised treasure. 

Natural magic, in Bacon's sense of the word, 
is the application of the knowledge of nature. 
Granted that we have learned the forms of 
nature, the qualities of bodies and their ultimate 
conditions, the possibility arises, as far as theory 
is concerned, of producing these qualities our- 
selves, and operating creatively like nature. If 
now to the theoretic is added the practical possi- 
bility — namely, material means — as the necessary 
vehicles of effectiveness, natural miracles, as it 

B 4 


were, will be the result. We need not decide 
(according to Bacon) whether what the alchemists 
sought was attainable or not ; at all events their 
method was wrong. Before we try to make gold 
we must become acquainted with the natural 
forms of gold, and all the conditions upon which 
these qualities infallibly appear. The triumphs 
of mechanical and chemical invention in our own 
times accomplish and at the same time explain 
the problems which Bacon conceived under the 
name of natural magic, and recommended to the 
future. " When magic," says Bacon, " is com- 
bined with science, this natural magic will ac- 
complish deeds that will bear to the earlier super- 
stitious experiments the same relation that the 
real acts of Caesar bear to the imaginary ex- 
ploits of King Arthur ; that is to say, they will 
be as deeds to tales, where more is done by the 
former than dreamed in the latter." * 

As aids to inventive natural science. Bacon 
desires a history of human discoveries, which 
shall render especially prominent all that has 
appeared impossible to man ; and also, for con- 
venient survey, a list of useful experiments {ca- 
talogus polychrestoruni). 

* This passage is not to be found in Bacon as it stands here, 
but it is formed from expressions in " De Augmentis," III. 5., 
which also occur in the " Advancement." — J. O. 



With Bacon, do not form an independent but a 
supplementary science ; they are an aid to natural 
philosophy. Pure mathematics consist of geo- 
metry and arithmetic, the knowledge of figures 
and numbers, of continuous and discrete quan- 
tities, — in a word, they are the knowledge of 
nature or of abstract quantity. But quantity is 
among the forms of nature ; therefore mathe- 
matics (in Bacon's sense of the word) belong to 
the knowledge of natural forms, that is, to 
metaphysics. Their scientific value lies in their 
contribution to the interpretation of nature. 
Their position is similar to that which Bacon 
assigns to logic. Both are subordinate to natural 
philosophy, from which both have unjustifiably 
separated themselves, so as to assume an inde- 
pendent rank of their own. Both, therefore, 
must be so connected anew with the physical 
sciences as to become mere aids to the latter. 
Thus we have a striking illustration of the 
difference between the Baconian and the Greek 
mode of thought. The forms of the Platonic 
metaphysics were ideals or antitypes, those of the 
Baconian metaphysics are powers. Plato con- 
sidered mathematics the portico of metaphysics ; 


Bacon regarded them as a mere aid and ap- 

IV. Antheopologt, 

As the science of man, in the more extended 
sense of the word, embraces everything human. 
It treats of human nature and human society, 
whence it may be divided into psychology and 
politics. Before it enters upon the separate 
divisions of human nature, it regards their un- 
divided unity from two points of view. 

In the first place it estimates the condition of 
humanity, with respect to its dignity and indignity, 
its greatness and its wretchedness, its bright and 
shadowy sides. A description of the latter is not 
set down by Bacon among his desiderata ; on the 
contrary, he finds that human misery is sufficiently 
illustrated by a copious literature of philosophical 
and theological writings, and, as it seems, has no 
desire to increase such " sweet and wholesome " * 
recreation. He would rather, like Hiero (accord- 
ing to Pindar) pluck the blossoms of human 
virtue, and introduce the science of man with 
a description of what is great in humanity, con- 
firmed by examples from history. He would 
decorate the porch of anthropology with statues 

* " Bes et dulcis simul et salubris." — De Augm. IV. 1., p. 581. 


of the " summities " of the human race. Every 
great deed effected by the power of the human 
mind and the human will, as manifested in the 
heroes of every time and tendency, should here 
be brought before us by abundant examples. 

The second point of view, which is more inti- 
mately connected with anthropology, refers to the 
unity of the human individual, to the relation 
between the soul and the body, as a consequence 
of which the soul expresses itself by means of the 
body, while the body reacts by impressions upon 
the soul. With reference to the body, considered 
as an expression of the soul. Bacon here gives 
the idea of a physiognomy — a science that, 
towards the end of the following century, was 
elaborated in such a surprising manner by 
Lavater. Bacon approximates closely to La- 
vater's system. He desires a new physiognomy, 
based upon real facts and observations, without 
chiromantic dreams or anything of the sort. 
Aristotle's notion of physiognomy was very im- 
perfect. Not only are the peculiarities of the 
soul expressed in the fixed lineaments of the 
body, but still more are the inclinations and 
passions expressed by the gestures, by the mov- 
able parts of the human face, especially the 
mouth. Thus expressions that have become habi- 
tual and permanent in the countenance furnish 


the plainest index of the soul and its inclina- 
tions, being, as it were, the involuntary language 
of the soul. This language, according to Bacon, 
it is the office of true physiognomy to decipher 
and to solve. In dreams, too. Bacon discovered 
a secret correspondence between the soul and the 
body ; he despises the pretensions of ordinary 
interpreters of dreams, but he shows how cer- 
tain states of the body correspond to certain 
dreams, and vice versa* 


Applied to human life, appears to Bacon less a 
science than an art, the object of which is cor- 
poreal well-being, with respect to health, beauty, 
strength, and enjoyment. This technical or prac- 
tical science of the human body may be divided 
accordingly into medicine, " cosmetique," " ath- 
letique," and " art voluptuary." Among the 
means of producing sensual gratification Bacon 
enumerates the arts that delight the eye and the 
ear, as painting and music This view of the 
fine arts was as unsatisfactory and unexalted as 
his view of poetry; and the assthetical theories 
that followed in the same direction merely 
elaborated the view, so as to render it clear and 
better defined, but scarcely elevated it at all. 

* "De Augmentis," IV. 1., p. 584. 


Bacon is chiefly interested about medicine, as 
the science that most contributes or ought to 
contribute to the corporeal benefit of man. He 
sees plainly enough that the sister of this useful 
science is quackery, just as Circe was the sister 
of -ffisculapius. From this relationship he would 
free medicine. With respect to all the sciences 
he reflects how they are to be purified from their 
vain and superstitious droas, and by the removal 
of the morbid material be rendered intellectually 
sound. This was his purpose in the cases of 
astrology, magic, and physiology, and now he has 
the same design with regard to medicine. This 
science should preserve health, heal sickness, 
lengthen life, and is therefore to be divided into 
disetetics, pathology, and macrobiotics. To the 
last, which he misses among the medical sciences 
of his day, he attaches the greatest importance, 
proposing the problem which, among the Germans, 
Hufeland endeavoured to solve. For the ad- 
vancement of pathology Bacon desires an accurate 
history of diseases, comparative anatomy, and — 
in the interests of science — vivisection. It seems 
to him a great mark of over-precipitancy and care- 
lessness that science has, without further inquiry, 
pronounced so many diseases incurable. If death 
is not to be prevented, physicians should never- 
theless take pains to render it easier. The allevia- 


tion of the pains of death, that gentle decease, 
which Bacon styles our " external euthanasia,"* 
is proposed by him as a special problem for 
medical science. 


Refers to the human soul considered apart, and 
is occupied with its nature and powers. Bacon 
distinguishes the soul, with respect to its sub- 
stances, into the sensible and rational. The 
former is naturally produced, the latter super- 
naturally inspired, imparted to man from without 
by the Divine breath. In a similar manner 
Aristotle made a distinction between the passive 
and active intellect (yovs TraOrjriKos and -ttoitjtikos), 
making the latter enter from without (BvpaOsv) 
into man. Hence, with Bacon, the mind cannot 
be explained on natural grounds, and conse- 
quently the science of the mind does not belong 
to psychology, but to theology, which, through 
revelation, apprehends supernatural causes. Bacon 
himself makes an admission, which is of the highest 
importance to those who would form a judgment 
of his philosophy ; namely, that it is incapable of 
explaining the mind. We may add that this 
incapability, which is here rightly attributed to 

* "Euthanasia exterior." — De Augm. IV. 1., p. 595. 


the Baconian philosophy, may be extended to 
realistic philosophy in general. Bacon does not 
deny the mind.* To deny the mind dogmatically. 
Bacon had too much mind himself, and too little 
self-denial. But, in a few words, he declares that 
the mind is incomprehensible ; he transfers the 
idea of mind from the sphere of science into that 
of religion, with which science holds no com- 
munication ; he makes between the sensible and 
rational soul a hiatus, which, by his own avowal, 
he is compelled to make. Thus with Bacon the 
mind is an inexplicable, and the soulf is a 
corporeal substance, which has its local seat in 
the brain, and is only invisible on account of its 
subtlety; the mind is referred to the Deity, 
the soul to the body. Thus, as far as spirit 
(or mind) and body — the Deity and the world 
— are concerned. Bacon entertains a dualism 
similar to that of Descartes. But science, 
which is ever impelled to search for explanations, 
and everywhere endeavours to find the con- 
nection and unity of phenomena, instinctively 
resists dualism in whatever shape it may appear. 
Hence the following philosophy, which was 

* i.e., as a spiritual substance. — J. 0. 

f The words " mind " (geist) and "soul" (seele) are here used 
as equivalents for the " Anima rationalis " and " Anima irra^ 
tionalis" of Bacon. — J. O. 


based upon Bacon, sought to get rid of that 
dualism which Bacon had bequeathed. To remain 
true to the principles of Bacon, and to avoid 
dualism in the interests of realistic thought, it 
was necessary either to deny the existence of that 
mind that could not be explained, or — what is 
the same thing — to declare that it was a cor- 
poreal substance together with the soul. Thus 
the Baconian philosophy, as soon as it revolted 
against its original dualism, necessarily took a 
direction towards materialism, analogous to the 
movement of Cartesianism towards Spinozism. 
Even Locke admitted that the mind was perhaps 
a corporeal substance ; and others, who followed 
him (especially in France), made of that " per- 
haps" an exclusive dogma. As soon as the 
Baconian philosophy resigned itself to the limits 
of a narrow dogmatic system, and, for the sake 
of consistency, contracted its sphere of vision, 
it necessarily hastened nearer to materialism at 
every step. As the Cartesian philosophy, when 
it abandons its dualism, is compelled to become 
pantheistic, so, with equal necessity, does the 
Baconian philosophy, when it abandons its dualism 
become materialistic. 

The Baconian philosophy investigates the facul- 
ties of the sensible soul, and divides its functions 
into voluntary motion and sensation. But Bacon 


distinguishes the faculty of sense from that of 
perception, which he ascribes to all bodies, and 
which- is a power similar to the soul, and inherent 
in every nature. Bacon is manifestly thinking 
of the analogy between the animate and inani- 
mate phenomena of nature, when he regards 
perception as a faculty everywhere present as 
distinguished from psychic sensation. On no 
other occasion does Bacon seem to speak so much 
in the spirit of Leibnitz. For Leibnitz has 
placed the analogy of all beings, — that funda- 
mental thought of his philosophy, — in the " Prin- 
cipium Perceptivum," and distinguished this om- 
nipresent power of perception from sensation 
and consciousness. However, Leibnitz's idea of 
perception is much more elaborated and more 
thoroughly carried out than Bacon's. Leibnitz 
referred to that energy directed towards a certain 
end* (and therefore including the faculty of 
representation), which is inherent in every indi- 
viduality, while Bacon by the word " perceptio " 
merely meant what is left of perception after the 
deduction of sensation — that is to say, mere recep- 
tivity — that disposition of a body that renders it 

* This long periphrasis represents " Zweckthatige Kraft." 
Though the teleological yiew of science is eminently popular in 
England, our language is strangely deficient in words having 
reference to final causes. — J. O. 


capable of definite impressions, the peculiar 
faculty of attraction and repulsion. A percep- 
tion of this kind is found, for example, in the 
magnet that attracts the iron, in the flame that 
darts toward the naphtha, in the air that is to a 
far higher degree susceptible of warmth and cold 
than the human organisation, in chemical affini- 
ties, &c. To all these peculiar utterances of 
body Bacon saw analogies in the phenomena of 
life, and therefore he designated their receptivity 
as a species of perception. His intuitive view 
of nature was more lively than his philosophy 
and the physical ideas belonging to it. The 
tendency of the latter was rather to give a 
mechanical explanation of the living than to 
perceive powers either living or resembling life 
in the mechanical phenomena of nature. In 
Bacon's intuitive views it is obvious that his mind 
does not rigidly follow the course prescribed by 
the compass of his method, but declines in 
another and an earlier direction, which had for him 
an involuntary power of attraction. This direc- 
tion was that of the Italian philosophy of na- 
ture, which had revived hylozoism, — the living 
view of nature taken by the Greeks. In the 
idea of an eternally living matter, the Italian 
philosophers, as Bacon thought, came into con- 
tact with the Greeks — Telesius with Parme- 


nides and Democritus. Here also Bacon him- 
self was in contact with the physical spirit of his 
immediate predecessors. Everywhere open to 
the future, his philosophy was not entirely closed 
against the past. In some passages the natural 
philosophy of the Italians shines with its poetical 
twilight into that of Bacon; and an accurate 
knowledge of the relation of Bacon to his Italian 
predecessors would amply repay a special investi- 
gation. But for this purpose the point of view 
must be taken within the sphere of the Italian 
natural philosophy-, upon which we cannot enlarge 
here. "We content ourselves with the cursory 
remark that a congenial description of the transi- 
tion period between the scholastic age and 
modern times is yet a desideratum. "What has 
hitherto been written on this subject scarcely 
reacbes the surface of the matter. 

The faculties of the human soul are the under- 
standing and the will, with their different species. 
"Would we know the use and objects of these 
faculties, our instructor with regard to the un- 
derstanding is logic, — with regard to the will, 
ethics. Logic and ethics are therefore branches 
of psychology.* 

* De Augment. Scient. IV. 3. 

T 2 


3. LOGIC, 

As the science that teaches the right use of the 
understanding, has as many parts as the under- 
standing has functions. Its office is so to under- 
stand and represent things^ that they become 
intelh'gible to others. We learn to understand 
things when we discern what is previously un- 
known, retain and judge what is known. Thus 
invention, judgment, retention, and "tradition" 
are the functions of the understanding, and into 
so many parts is logic divided. Invention and 
judgment belong to the understanding, properly so 
called, retention tp the memory, " tradition " to 
discourse oral and written. The art of thinking 
— that is, of inventing and judging — is logic, 
properly so called ; the art of memory is termed 
mnemonics, the art of discourse rhetoric. 

The inventive understanding is the proper or- 
gan of science. On the right use of this faculty 
rests all the weal, and on its neglect all the woe, 
of science. Inventive logic is, therefore, in the 
eyes of Bacon, the ^reat art which he misses, 
and therefore places above all others among the 
desiderata of his new philosophy. Here is the 
point where his " Encyclopaedia" and his " Novum 
Organum" come into the closest contact; for 
the " Novum Organum" is, in fact, neither more 


nor less than the new logic, which is here men- 
tioned as a desideratum. Invention presupposes ex- 
perience or induction, but the experience which 
had been in vogue till Bacon's time, and which 
he calls dialectical, was unfitted for this pur- 
pose, inasmuch as it neither investigated things 
thoroughly, nor carefully noted negative in- 
stances. Experimental experience is alone fruit- 
ful, and this is twofold ; either it confines itself 
to experimental details, or it ascends from the 
experiment to general laws. In the former case 
he calls it " Experientia literata ; " in the latter, 
" Interpretatio naturae." The " Experientia lite- 
rata" consists in this : — that a number of experi- 
ments are made, that every one of them is 
varied in every possible way, sometimes with 
additions, sometimes with omissions ; and that, in 
the case of every modification, the new results are 
observed and described. Such a mode of ex- 
perience is neither regular in its course, nor is it 
directed to any definite end; it takes various 
directions, and everywhere searches out natural 
phenomena like a hunter in pursuit of game, 
not like a scientific investigator engaged ia the 
deduction of general laws. This searching and 
describing experience is therefore termed by 
Bacon the " hunt of Pan ; " the other kind, 
which makes use of experiments for the disco- 

T 3 


very of laws, he terms the " Interpretatio na- 
turae." And this latter kind he thinks he has 
set forth in bis " Novum Organum." 

The form of the judging understanding is 
either induction or syUogism. The inductive 
judgment belongs to inventive logic, syllogism is 
the form of proof. Syllogistic sdence comprises 
the arts of proving" and refuting ; of which the 
former teaches the correct form of argument, the 
latter the means to be employed against sophistry. 
The first part of scientific art consists of " Ana- 
lytics," the other treats of " Elenchi." Under 
the latter head Bacon includes false proofs or 
sophisms — ambiguous definitions — and the fal- 
lacies or idols, the refutation of which is the first 
problem of the " Novum Organum." 

Mnemonic art is the discipline of the memory. 
To retain transient notions, certain points must be 
found of which the memory can, as it were, lay 
hold, and the discovery of these is the object of 
this particular art. To discern such artificial 
means we have only to observe what means we 
involuntarily apply to strengthen and retain the 
impressions we have received. We write down 
the matter in question, and thus fix it in space 
for our external contemplation, placing it before 
our eyes in a tabular form easy of survey, and so 
endowing it with visible shape. Such an image 


Is well fitted to make an impression on the 
memory, and to guide the understanding.* Con- 
formably to this natural point of view he treats 
mnemonic art. He would assist the memory by 
means of the imagination, or — what is the same 
thing — he would convert notions into emblems, 
and in this shape consign them to the memory, 
in the same manner as, according to his view, the 
wisdom of the ancients was impressed upon the 
ordinary understanding by means of myths and 
parables, — that is to say, of emblems ; he would 
consign intellectual notions generally to the 
memory in the shape of sensible images. But 
images belong to the imagination, not to the 
memory, which only retains notions in the ab- 
stract symbols of words and numbers. If, for 
instance, as Bacon suggests, we endeavour to 
retain the notion of invention by connecting it 
with the image of a hunter, or that of order by 
means of the figure of an apothecary arranging 
his boxes, these notions are presented not through 
the memory, but through the imagination. In 

* A passage occurs here, which, as it can be intelligible to 
German readers only, referring, as it does, to a German idiom, I 
hare omitted from the text. It is as follows : — " Wir sagen 
sehr gut vom Gedachtnisse, dass es die Dinge auswendig wisse, 
d. h. es besitzt die Begriffe in Zeichen, denn das Zeiehen ist der 
auswendige (aiisserlich gemachte) Begriff." As the English 
equivalent to " auswendig wissea " is " to know bt/ heart," trans- 
lation is impossible. — J. 0. 

T 4 


a similar manner mnemonic art was cultivated 
by the ancients, and also in the last century by 

The objects of rhetoric are merely indicated by 
Bacon, who points out the structure of discourse, 
the science of language and comparative grammar, 
the method of teaching, and the art of speaking. 
Its appendices are criticism and pedagogy.* 


Treat of the human will, as logic of the human 
thought, and from the same practical point of 
view. If the latter taught the art of judgment 
and invention, the former teach the art of ac- 
tion. Ancient ethics regarded the object of 
action more than action itself, teaching what was 
good, and in what the highest good and human 
happiness consist; but less explaining how an 
action is good, and how by a good action happi- 
ness is attained. In this kind of ethics there 
was more of rhetoric than of moral instruction, 
and it was of no more use than a writing-master 
who sets us copies, but does not guide our hand 
or teach us how to imitate them. The Baconian 
ethics are to stand in the same relation to those 
that preceded, as an able 1?eacher of writing to 

* Por the subjects of the above section compare De Augm. 
Scient. V., VI. 


a mere calligrapher. Their object is practical 
utility, — the good, in the practical sense of the 
word. This practical moral doctrine will not, 
indeed, appear nearly so dazzling and so sublime 
as the preceding moral systems, with their high- 
flying reflections on the highest good and the 
highest happiness, but it will be much more 
useful, and approximate more closely to human 
nature ; for it will treat of the materials of human 
action, and penetrate them as corporeal matter is 
penetrated by physics. Here Bacon makes the 
noble confession, that in what he leaves to pos- 
terity he will purposely disregard the lustre of 
his name and of his knowledge, and contemplate 
the good of humanity alone. The useful should 
be conjoined with the sublime, just as Virgil* not 
only describes 'the deeds of JEneas, but incul- 
cates the precepts of agriculture. True science 
must be able to say with Demosthenes : " If you 
do these things you will not merely praise the 
orator, but yourselves also through the speedy 
improvement of your afiuirs."t 

What is good? Let us be content to give a 

• Bacon illustrates this remark with the quotation — 
" Nee sum animi dabius, verbis ea viucere magnum 
Quam sit, et angustis hunc addere rebus honorem." 

Georg. UI. 289,— J. O. 
f At the condusion of the Second Oly nthiac. — J. 0, 


relative answer to this question. That is good 
which is useful to man, — both to individuals 
and to humanity in general. There is an indi- 
vidual and a common good. That which benefits 
society is generally useful, and on this Bacon 
lays especial stress. Inasmuch as the whole is 
greater than a part, and society more powerful 
than an individual, the generally useful deserves 
the preference above individual interests. In 
Bacon's opinion the Greek philosophers, more 
particularly Aristotle, did not sufficiently appre- 
ciate the worth of general utility, and therefore 
placed theoretical above practical life. A life 
devoted to the common welfare must be prac- 
tical, and so direct all its theoretical efforts as 
to make them generally useful. Action of 
general utility is the highest of human duties, 
which, according to the different spheres of life 
to which they belong, and the extent of them, 
may be divided into universal and particular. 
To the latter belong the duties of one's office or 
vocation, those connected with family, friend- 
ship, &c. From this diversity of duties cases of 
collision or opposition may arise, which Bacon 
would solve by making the particular subordinate 
to the general duty ; so that in all cases the final 
decision may be given by the generally useful. 
Virtue consists of the exercise of duty, for which 


the soul should be fitted, and it is this training of 
the soul that is the true purpose of ethics. 

But to eflfect this purpose, one thing, in which 
moral science has hitherto been deficient, is re- 
quisite — a practical knowledge of man. We 
cannot render man moral at a single blow, by rhe- 
torical exhortation and diifuse praises of virtue, 
nor can we make every one moral in the same 
manner. The ethical teacher must make him- 
self acquainted with mankind, and study the 
peculiarities of the soul as carefully as physi- 
cians study those of the body. Neither in morals 
nor in medicine is there any panacea. The 
landowner ought to know the different qualities 
of the soil, inasmuch as it is impossible to plant 
everything everywhere ; and, in like manner, the 
physician ought to be informed of the different 
constitutions of the human body, which are as 
many, and as various as the individuals themselves; 
and the ethical teacher must learn the different 
mental qualities, which are just as numerous as 
bodily constitutions. In the ethics hitherto taught 
Bacon misses this foundation of practical know- 
ledge, without which moral science is vague and 
sterile, composed of mere abstract principles, and 
suited to — not a real but — an abstract man. 
Such ethics produce idols, that are only fitted 
for idols. They apply their remedies to all persons 


alike, without distinguishing their peculiarities, 
and are therefore guilty of the same quackery as 
those physicians who prescribe the same drugs 
for all their patients, whatever difference of 'con- 
stitution may exist among them.* 

Ethical science cannot make men of a nature 
different from that of which they are made already, 
any more than physical science can make nature 
or alter the elementary matter of bodies. Physics 
require a knowledge of nature, ethics a knowledge 
of mankind. Physics, on the basis of a knowledge 
of nature, seek the means of making new inven- 
tions and of advancing the physical welfare of 
mankind ; ethics, on the basis of a knowledge of 
mankind, seek to promote moral welfare and to 
cultivate virtue in the sense of general utility. 
Ethics, therefore, may be divided into the doc- 
trine of characters, and the doctrine of remedies 
or moral expedients. Ethical science may make 
a choice among the latter, but men and their 
peculiarities are given to it as objects of contem- 
plation and study. In every individual specimen 
of humanity there is an original disposition 
(^Gemuthsart) or tendency of the will, and certain 
motive powers that impel the will, and (to make 
use of a Baconian expression) are to the human 
mind what tempests are to the sea. The original 

* Compare De Aagm. Scient. "VII. 3. 


disposition is called by Bacon the " character ; " 
the motive powers that act like storms upon the 
soul, are the passions and affections. To learn 
mankind is to study the characters and passions 
of men. Here Bacon takes the same view of 
ethics that Shakspeare takes of dramatic poetry. 
That we may become acquainted with human 
character Bacon directs us to the source from 
which Shakspeare has derived his dramas — to 
the historians and the poets, especially the Roman, 
one of whom he especially upholds as the greatest 
of all historians and describers of character, 
namely, Tacitus, as represented by his description 
of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero. 

Every human character is a product of the 
internal natural foundation and of external cir- 
cumstances, and there is as great a diversity 
among characters as there is variety in their 
factors. Every individual is sui generis. The 
passions stir the soul and drive it out of the 
routine of generally useful and temperate action. 
Here is presented that great spectacle of human 
vicissitudes which is grasped by the imagination 
of the dramatic poet, and which no one has more 
deeply studied or more faithfully represented 
than Shakspeare. Here, too, does ethical science 
find its practical task. It should bring passions 
so under the dominion of reason that they may 


not go astray ; and this task Is accomplished by 
restraining the passions and reducing them to a 
condition of natural equilibrium, in which they 
operate as checks upon each other. Like a cau- 
tious physician it seeks to approach nature by a 
natural path, opposing the unfettered with a 
restraining force, and, as it were, the first with 
a second nature. This second nature is custom 
(consuetudo), the power of which, in opposition to 
the opinion of Aristotle, is especially extolled by 
Bacon. The most potent moral remedy is to be 
found in custom. To attain a natural equilibrium 
the soul should incline to the side that is adverse 
to its ruling passions, and pursue this tendency 
till it has become a habit. Thus a crooked stick, 
if bent with caution, will become straight. 

The moral state contemplated by Bacon is to 
be found, as with Aristotle, in the medium or 
point of indifference between opposite passions. 
It is nlental calmness reduced to a habit, an ac- 
quired indifference to the power of the affections.* 
This ethical state appears to be a copy of Bacon's 
own moral disposition, which did not require to 
be weaned from violent passions, but had received 
at first from the hand of nature that equilibrium 

* Of course this word is to be understood rather in the sense 
of the Latin "afFectus" than according to its conventional 
acceptation. — J. O. 


which most persons can only acquire by force of 
habit. It is, however, obvious enough that the 
Baconian ethics are sketched altogether in the 
spirit of modern philosophy, contemplating man- 
kind as the Baconian professor of physical science 
contemplates natural bodies. They are based 
upon knowledge of mankind, which is wholly 
derived from the observation of individuals, at- 
tained by experience and confirmed by in- 


Are ethics applied to state affairs. If ethics, 
strictly so called, teach the art of morally culti- 
vating mankind, political science teaches that 
of guiding the state or the multitude to ends of 
general utility. It is, in fact, the art of govern- 
ment. Bacon considers the task of politics lighter 
than that of ethics, inasmuch as it is harder to 
lead an individual than a multitude. Herein he 
agrees with Cato, the censor*, who used to 
say of the Eomans, that they were like sheep, of 
which a whole flock can more easily be driven 
than a single one ; for, if only a few are brought 
into the right path, the rest will follow of their 
own accord. Prudence is in politics what virtue 
is in ethics. However, Bacon refrains inten- 

* Vide"Platarch."— J. 0. 


tionally frbm conducting us into the arcana of poli- 
tical art, and even declares to us, at the beginning 
of his first chapter on this subject*, that he has 
overlooked one art, which he will now show by 
his own example ; and that is the art of silence. 
Here he follows the precedent of Cicero, who 
once wrote to Atticus — " On this occasion I 
have borrowed somewhat of your eloquence, for 
I have kept silent."! Nay, it becomes him espe- 
cially, as a statesman high in office, to be silent 
on political affairs. This declaration proves that 
Bacon does not regard politics with the eye of a 
savant, as a doctrine to be taught, but contem- 
plates it with the eye of a statesman, as a prac- 
tical art that must adapt Itself to circumstances. 
He only teaches it externally. In his doctrine 
concerning prudence in ordinary affairs {Prudentia 
Negotiandi), and in what he says respecting the 
extension of dominion {De Proferendis Finibus 
Imperil), he teaches the policy of every-day life, 
and the means of extending the national power.| 
From these few remarks we plainly see that his 
political models were the Eomans and Macchia- 
velli. With respect to the latter Bacon was of 
opinion that he was the first among the moderns 

» De Aiigm. Scient. VIII. 1. 

f " Hoc loco ego sumsi quiddam de tua eloquentia, nam 
tacui." — Epist. ad Att. xiii. 42. 
\ Compare De Augm. Scient. VIIL 3. 


who had once more begun to think and to write 
politically. However he himself did not wish to 
exhibit politics as they appear on the eminence 
contemplated by the statesman, but as they 
appear on the broad plain of ordinary life ; he did 
not wish to show how the king and the statesman, 
but how everybody must be politic. Thus he 
treated only of prudence in politics, of the policy 
of all the world, not of rulers in particular. 
Occasionally, indeed, he made reference to the 
great Florentine ; but, for his own part, he rather 
chose to interpret the Proverbs of Solomon for 
the behoof of every-day wisdom than to reveal 
the secrets of high policy and the royal art of 





Philosophy, in Bacon's sense of the word, was 
the knowledge of things from natural causes, 
which causes were distinguished by Bacon him- 
self into efficient and final. Thus natural philo- 
sophy was divided into physics and metaphysics ; 
the latter forming, as it were, the foundation of 
natural theology. For the perception of final 
causes in nature shows us a world regulated for 
certain ends, and such a world cannot be con- 
ceived without a regulating Intelligence. Now 
natural theology is the image of the Deity as the 
creative Regulator of the world, and faith in such 
a Deity is a scientific necessity. That disbelief 
which is in opposition to it — or Atheism — is 
scientifically impossible. " It is easier," says Ba- 
con, "to believe the most absurd fables of the 
Koran, the Talmud, and the Legends, than to 
believe that the world was made without under- 
standing. Hence God has wrought i^o miracles for 
the refutation of Atheism, because, to this end, his 
regular works in nature are suflScient." * 
* Essay " On Atheism." 


Thus, natural theology in the sense of Bacon, 
is but the faith that there is a Divine Intelli- 
gence in the world, — that the Deity is manifest 
in the regulated course of nature. This theology 
does not transcend the horizon of natural causes ; 
the boundary of this horizon is likewise the limit 
of philosophy. Within this sphere nothing is 
known of the supernatural essence of the Deity, of 
His decrees for the benefit of man ; consequently 
nothing of religion, the science of which lies 
beyond nature, — nothing of the kingdom of 
grace, the science of which must be sought in 
religion. Religion is based on the superna- 
tural revelation of the Deity, and the knowledge 
pertaining to it consists in revealed theology. 
Natural theology belongs to philosophy, revealed 
theology to religion. As the limit of natural 
causes is likewise the limit of the human under- 
standing, there is an insurmountable barrier be- 
tween philosophy and religion. Hence natural 
theology affects no mediation, but stands alto- 
gether within the region of philosophy. It cer- 
tainly affords no support to religion, according 
to Bacon; nay, it is doubtful how far it is it- 
self really supported by philosophy, for passages 
occur in which mention is made of natural phi- 
losophy as an element foreign to philosophy. 

Two points therefore are established. First, 
u 2 


Eeligion — such as alone is worthy of the name 
— is not based upon natural knowledge ; in this 
sense there is no such thing as natural religion. 
Secondly, a scientific knowledge of religious 
truths is impossible ; in this sense there is no 
such thing as a philosophy of religion.* To pass 
from philosophy into religion, we must step out 
of the boat of science, in which we have circum- 
navigated the old and new world, into the ship of 
the Church, and there receive the divine revela- 
tions as positively as they are given. f Bacon has 
said that a drop from the cup of philosophy leads 
to Atheism, but a full draught to religion. By 
this expression he could only refer to natural 
religion, which in fact forms merely a section of 
philosophy (if, indeed, it has any firm basis at all), 
and has nothing to do with revelation. As for 
the latter, Bacon does not tell us that the boat of 
science takes us into the ship of the Church, but 
that we must get out of one and into the other, 
if we would participate in religious truth. As 
between mind and body, so is there between the 
Deity and the World — according to Bacon — an 
insoluble Dualism. 

* Theology and religion are with Bacon synonymous. Hence 
he gives the name of natural religion to natural theology. To 
avoid ambiguity of expression we shall only use the word 
religion in the sense of revealed religion.— Author's Note. 

t Compare "De Augm." IX. 


I. The Sepabation between Reason and the 
Faith in Revelation. 


This Dualism establishes a separation between 
religion and philosophy, that excludes all inter- 
communication and reciprocal influence. Philo- 
sophy within the sphere of religion is infidelity ; 
religion within the sphere of philosophy is fan- 
tastic. From the Baconian point of view reli- 
gious faith can neither be self-appropriated nor 
believed by human reason; it will not tole- 
rate any rational criticism, but demands a blind 
acceptance of the divine decrees that have been 
revealed. To human reason, these revelations, 
divine in their origin, are impenetrable mysteries. 
The opposition of our own will does not weaken 
the stringency of the divine decrees ; neither does 
the contradiction of our reason lessen the credi- 
bility of the divine revelations. Rather, indeed, 
does this very contradiction confirm the divinity 
of their origin. We are the more bound to 
accept the divine revelations the less they are com- 
prehensible by our reason ; the " more the divine 
mystery is contrary to reason, the more must it be 
believed for the honour of God."* Repugnance 

* Compare "De Augm." IX. 1. 
u 3 


to reason, far from being a " negative instance," 
■with respect to faith, is, on the contrary, a " posi- 
tive instance " — a criterion of credibility. A 
divine revelation must be believed, not although, 
but because it is, in opposition to human reason. 
Religious faith is not to stand behind, but be- 
yond science, on a totally different basis ; it must 
be unconditional, without rational ground, with- 
out logical aid, and therefore to all intents and 
purposes a blind faith. Thus, even in the sphere 
of theology. Bacon is thoroughly anti-scholastic. 
Scholasticism is a speculative theology, a con- 
struction of the articles of faith according to the 
laws of the understanding, a logical bulwark of 
the Church. This bulwark is destroyed by Ba- 
con in the case both of philosophy and of reli- 
gion. Philosophy must not raise it, theology 
must not seek to fortify itself by such expe- 
dients ; and by separating the two Bacon destroys 
the scholastic spirit which had united them, or, 
if we prefer the expression, jumbled them to- 
gether. Indeed, he seems to revert to the prse- 
scholastic faith, and to revive the maxim of Ter- 
tuUian — " Credo quia absurdum." " Christ, the 
Son of God," said Tertullian, " died ; this I 
believe, because it is repugnant to reason : he was 
buried and rose from the dead ; this is certain, for 
it is impossible." But between Tertullian and 


Bacon intervene the systems of Scholasticism, and 
they are as different from each other as the ages 
to which they belong. To the English philo- 
sopher human reason did not appear so impotent 
as to the Latin Father of the Church. The 
same expression bears one meaning in the mouth 
of a reformer of science, another in that of a 
teacher of the early Church. The declaration of 
Bacon in the last book, " De Dignitate et Aug- 
mentatlone Scientiarum," has manifestly another 
sense from that of the same proposition when 
uttered by TertuUian in his treatise " De Came 
ChristL" Bacon has in the background the " Dig- 
nitas Scientiarum," which he has defended with so 
much zeal, and enriched with so many treasures. 
But this "Dignitas Scientiarum" is far from being 
acknowledged by Tertullian ; or, we may rather 
say, he acknowledges the direct contrary — namely, 
the worthlessness of science and the impotence of 
human reason. Tertullian's proposition is simple ; 
Bacon's conveys two meanings. They have one 
interest in common ; they wish to have no ra- 
tionalising faith, no intermixture of faith and 
reason, of religion and philosophy, of revelation 
and nature. For the sake of this interest both 
grasp the paradox which declares that, in religion, 
repugnance to reason increases credibility. In the 
relation between faith and reason only three cases 
u 4 


are possible, and of these one alone belongs to 
the purists of faith. Either faith contradicts or 
does not contradict reason; and, in the event 
of contradiction, it contradicts with or without 
the consent of reason. The first case is expressed 
by the declaration, " I believe, because it is in 
accordance with reason." Here faith becomes a 
rational dogma, for it has the testimony of reason. 
The second case is expressed thus : " I believe, 
although it is repugnant to reason." Here faith 
is a concession of the reason, by which it is 
granted, and, as it were, permitted. Here reason 
performs an act of self-denial for the sake of faith. 
It resolves to believe with a heavy heart, saying, 
" I believe. Lord, help thou my unbelief." From 
this point of view faith would greatly prefer its 
articles to be rational, as it would then deem 
them all the more credible. Lastly, the third 
case is expressed thus : " I believe, because it is 
impossible." Here faith not only renounces all 
subservience to reason, but all alliance with it, 
openly taking the opposite ground and allowing 
no objection. If, with Tertullian and Bacon, 
we oppose faith to reason, and make repugnance 
to reason a positive criterion of faith, this third 
case remains alone possible. No other formula 
can be applied by purism in faith to reason and 
philosophy. Nevertheless, even this formula 


13 involuntarily allied with reason, and herein 
consists the contradiction that produces its in- 
trinsic impossibility. It is an argument of the 
reason ; it gives a ground for faith which, although 
the opposite of reason, is a ground notwithstand- 
ing ; it cannot get rid of the " quia," but is itself 
logic, while it precludes all logic ! However, we 
will be satisfied with the good intention, and 
merely inquire whether the " Credo quia ab- 
surdum" is as piously meant by Bacon as by 

Tertullian, when he made his declaration, had 
only one purpose in view — the purity of faith. 
He did not intend to confer a benefit on science, 
for to him science was valueless. His proposition 
was simple and had but one meaning. On the 
other hand. Bacon, by his separation of faith and 
reason,- wished to secure the independence of 
both; he wished to preserve both from inter- 
mixture, intending the independence of science, 
no less than that of religion. Nay, we will go 
further. Bacon desired the independence of 
faith, because he preferred that of science; he 
acted more for the sake of science than for that 
of faith. His declaration carried with it a double 
meaning. It can be interpreted to the advantage of 
both faith and science, but it must be interpreted 
more to the advantage of the latter. Science was 


Bacon's treasure, and where the treasure is there 
will the heart be also. Did not he himself call 
the dominion of man, based upon science, the 
heavenly kingdom that he would open ? His 
interest in faith and science was divided ; it had 
two sides ; if there was a preponderance any- 
where, it was undoubtedly on the side of science. 
And, in fact, there was such a preponderance. 
No one who has made himself acquainted with 
this knowledo;e- craving; mind can doubt that its 
true and involuntary interest was in science 
alone ; to science Bacon devoted the best portion 
of his life, while the other portion was devoted 
not to religion, but to state affairs. As far as his 
inclinations were concerned, faith was of just as 
much value to him as science to TertuUian. His 
mind was no more theological than Tertullian's 
was physical. Now in this two-sided position 
what is the relation of Bacon himself to religion ? 

II. Bacon's Position with regard to Religion. 


In solving this difficult and much-contested ques- 
tion we take one fact as our guide — the har- 
mony between the character and the philosophy 
of Bacon. His own relation to religion is also 


that of his philosophy. If it was once resolved 
that religion and philosophy were to be com- 
pletely separated, no other formula was left but 
that which Bacon adopted in common with Ter- 
tullian, and he was obliged to lay the stress of 
faith upon repugnance to reason. Now, from 
Bacon's point of view, was this separation neces- 
sary ? There are three cases which express the 
possible relation of philosophy to religion. Phi- 
losophy, while acknowledging religion, has to 
explain it, — this is the first and natural problem. 
If it is unable to solve this problem, nothing is 
left but a simple assertion that religion is incom- 
prehensible : and here two ways are possible ; 
either philosophy must absolutely deny or abso- 
lutely acknowledge the incomprehensible object ; 
— either overthrow it altogether or leave it utterly 
untouched. This is never done by scientific ex- 
planation, which at once vindicates and criticises 
its object. 

The Baconian philosophy is incapable of ex- 
plaining religion. It could neither comprehend 
the creative imagination in art nor the essential 
nature of the human mind. It is deficient in all 
the organs required for an apprehension of re- 
liojion — that connection between the Divine and 
the human mind. Religion is, in every case, 
a relation, the two members of which are the 


Deity and the mind of man. How can a rela- 
tion be comprehended where there is no com- 
prehension of its members? How can a phi- 
losophy, which admits of no knowledge except 
through the medium of experimentalising ex- 
perience, fathom the mind either in the Divine 
or the hun>an nature ? To what experiment, to 
what mechanical investigation, is the mind re- 
vealed ? With respect to this point the Ba- 
conian philosophy is aware of its own limit; it 
is fully conscious that within its own sphere the 
mind, God, and religion, are unfathomable ob- 
jects. This clear and express conviction shows 
that the Baconian philosophy understood itself 
rightly in the person of its founder, and knew how 
to restrain experience within due limits. Thus the 
only choice left was between the rejection and 
the acknowledgment of religion, and whichever 
side it took, it was forced to embrace uncondi- 
tionally; it could not do otherwise than either 
reject religion or allow it to remain just as it was. 
To this inevitable dilemma is the Baconian phi- 
losophy reduced through inevitable causes, and in 
conformity with its scientific character it decides 
in favour of unconditional acknowledgment. But 
it is difficult, if not utterly impossible, to escape 
from a necessary dilemma without any oscillation, 
and to remain immovably on one side, especially 


with such a mohlle philosophy as the Baconian. 
Once involved in the dilemma between the un- 
conditional acknovfledgment and unconditional 
rejection of religion, it involuntarily falls into a 
sort of perpendicular movement which from the 
positive resting-place of acknowledgment which 
Bacon has seized, not unfrequently oscillates in 
a negative direction. The contradictions that 
are found in Bacon's position with respect to 
religion are nothing but movements within the 
sphere of this dilemma, involuntary oscillations in 
a situation that is in itself dubious. If we would 
accurately define Bacon's position with regard to 
religion, we must formulise the contradiction in 
which it was involved. The Baconian philosophy 
acknowledged and affirmed the positive system of 
faith, while it pursued its own course in an in- 
dependent extra-religious direction ; it restrained 
an impulse to deny, but could not altogether 
suppress it. Why then, it may be asked, did not 
the Baconian philosophy express its opposition to 
religion without reserve, as was actually done by 
most of Bacon's successors ? Why did it embrace 
the side of acknowledgment, to which it could 
scarcely adhere without internal repugnance and 
open contradiction ? In the negative 'position it 
would have been more firm and more itself; 
why, then, did it choose the positive ? The first 


and likewise the common answer is, that Bacon, 
from personal considerations, yielded to the autho- 
rity of religion ; that, under the show of apparent 
acknowledgment, he concealed the anti-religious 
character of his philosophy ; that, in a word, his 
position with regard to religion was hypocritical. 
The first answer is not always the best ; in this 
case it is the worst that can be giyen, and like- 
wise the least intelligible. It is worth while to at- 
tempt a scientific explanation of the matter before 
we unhesitatingly pronounce a moral condemna- 
tion. One thing is obvious, that, if Bacon's ac- 
knowledgment of religion was mere hypocrisy, 
he was one of the most silly and bungling of 
hypocrites ; for, that which the cloak should have 
covered — namely, the discrepancy of his philo- 
sophy to religion — was plainly revealed in many 
places. Hypocrisy is the sign of a dishonest man; 
hypocritical bungling is the sign of a fool. If one 
of these characters can be associated with the 
mind of Bacon, surely we cannot say the same 
of the other. 


Bacon,»forsooth, ought to have rejected reli- 
gion, because he could not explain it ! On the 
same grounds he would have been compelled to 


deny the human mind and the existence of a 
Deity ; for he himself acknowledges that his philo- 
sophy is unable to explain even these. On the same 
grounds he would have been compelled to deny 
metaphysics and natural theology, for neither of 
them is in accordance with the strictly physical 
spirit of his philosophy. If Bacon would not allow 
final causes — the mind and the Deity — to be taken 
into consideration in the physical interpretation 
of things, was he bound therefore to deny them ? 
Or if he afBrmed the existence of those powers 
which do not admit a physical explanation, was 
this affirmation mere hypocrisy ? If it was not, 
why should the term be applied to his acknow- 
ledgment of religion ? 

Indeed, Bacon had in his natural, if not alto- 
gether physical, explanation of the world, suffi- 
cient grounds to acknowledge the existence of a 
Deity. Here he discerned final causes of which 
he could give no physical explanation, and of 
which he could make no physical use, but which 
on any empirical ground were just as little to be 
denied. Physical science explains things as the 
effects of blindly operating forces ; it knows of no 
laws but those of mechanical causality, but it can- 
not deny that in their effects an arrangement made 
for some final purpose is likewise manifest. It 
leaves to metaphysics the task of finding forces 


that operate with a purpose for effects conform- 
able to an end*, and to natural theology the 
task of tracing back these forces to an Original 
Power as the Creator of the universe. Bacon 
himself has repeatedly declared that, in his eyes, 
a thoroughly mechanical and atomistic philo- 
sophy of nature, like the systems of Leucippus, 
Democritus, and Epicurus, not only affords room 
for a natural theology, but even requires and con- 
firms one more than any other system. Atomism 
rejects final causes from the explanation of nature, 
but does not deny that there are ends in na- 
ture itself. It is forced to acknowledge orderly 
arrangements in nature which could not possibly 
be deduced from the fortuitous motions of innu- 
merable atoms. Rather is it compelled to re- 
cognise an Intelligent Originator of the world, to 
whom such arrangements are to be attributed. 
So natural does this assumption appear to the 
understanding of Bacon, that, rather than reject 
it, he will agree to every possible superstition. 
"Even that school which is most accused of 
atheism doth most demonstrate religion ; that is 
the school of Leucippus, and Democritus, and 
Epicurus ; for it is a thousand times more credible 
that four mutable elements and one immutable 

* "Fiir die zweckmassigen Wirkungen die zweckthatigen 
ICriifte."— J. O. 


fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no 
God, than that an army of infinite small portions 
or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order 
and beauty without a Divine Marshal."* 

Thus even the natural explanation leads (through 
metaphysics to natural theology, and thus) to the 
discovery of a Divine power, that cannot be con- 
ceived destitute of intellect and will. The Divine 
power reveals itself in nature, the Divine will in 
the ordinances of religion. And the acts of this 
will are despotic ; that is to say, without explana- 
tory motive.f If the many natural manifestations 
of the Divine power transcend the explanations 
of human reason, how much more incompre- 
hensible are the ordinances and decrees of the 
Divine will {Willkuhr), and how much more 
inexplicable, therefore, is religion! But is it, 
therefore, less worthy of acknowledgment? If 
natural philosophy finds itself compelled to ac- 
knowledge the Divine power, will it venture 
to deny the Divine will {Willen) in religion? 
Since in the Deity there can be no contradic- 
tion between power and wiU, a disagreement be- 
tween religion and philosophy seems, in the eyes 

* Essay XVL " Of Atheism." 

f " Aus blosser grundloser Willkuhr." I have allowed myself 
a somewhat violent periphrasis in dealing with this untranslatable 
expression J. O. 



of Bacon, equally impossible.* At all events, 
natural philosophy does not bring man into con- 
tradiction with Divine revelation. " It was not 
that pure and immaculate natural science by 
virtue of which Adam bestowed on things their 
appropriate names, that gave occasion to the fall 
of man ; but that ambitious and imperious appetite 
of moral science, judging of good and evil, with 
the intent that man might revolt from God and 
govern himself, was both the cause and means of 
temptation, "t 

I have thus merely proved that Bacon's theore- 
tical point of view did not prevent him from 
acknowledging religion. I shall show, further, 
that his practical point of view prevented him 
from rejecting or assailing religion. Thus, by the 
action of both sides, his position with regard to 
religion is brought exactly to the level at which 
we find it. 

* Compare " Not. Org." I. 89. 

•)■ " Neque enim pura ilia et immaculata scientia naturalis, per 
quam Adam nomina ex proprietate rebus imposuit, principium 
aut occasionem lapsui dedit. Sed ambitiosa ilia et imperativa 
scientise moralis, de bono et male dijudicantis, cupiditas, ad hoc 
ut Homo a Deo deficeret et sibi ipsi leges daret, ea demnm 
ratio atque modus tentationis fuit." — General Pref. to the Inst, 



Let the case be supposed (which, however, was 
not the fact) that Bacon took a hostile position 
with regard to religion, and made natural truth 
the criterion of religious truth ; what would have 
been the consequence? Manifestly a war with 
religion, a war with dogmas — that is to say, in 
the eyes of Bacon, a war of words ; one of those 
useless disputations that had desolated the human 
mind for ages, and alienated it from a healthy 
contemplation of the world. Instead of aug- 
menting science Bacon would have augmented 
religious controversy, and increased the poverty 
of science, by a new instalment. Whoever has 
become acquainted with the mind of Bacon must 
know how much he was averse from all disputations 
of the kind ; how his whole nature was, in every 
way, instinctively opposed to verbal discussions. 
This one reason is sufficient to explain and vin- 
dicate Bacon's position with respect to religion. 
He would not, at any price, be a religious con- 
troversialist, and therefore, at any price, he was 
compelled to take a pacific position with respect 
to religion. He had to choose between a faith 
sans phrase and the phrases of controversy. 
Hence in his preference of the former there was 
no hypocrisy, since on all accounts and on every 

X 2 


ground he wished to avoid the latter. We draw 
our conclusion from the peculiar mind of Bacon ; 
in this the necessity of his pacific position with 
regard to religion results from the impossibility 
of its opposite. Those who are so ready with the 
reproach of hypocrisy have not taken this into 
consideration. Bacon wished to avoid all border 
wars between faith and science ; not only because 
they would have been hazardous and incon- 
venient, but because he did not see any utility, 
any practical advantage to be derived from such 
disputes. His great object was to preserve 
science from all useless controversies, that time, 
instead of being lost in them, might be gained 
for better and more profitable investigations. In 
order to attain this end. Bacon did not scruple to 
sacrifice somewhat of the formal authority of 
philosophy, which could thus the more uninter- 
ruptedly secure and extend its real dominion. 
Even this one consideration is sufficient to pre- 
serve Bacon's conduct from the charge of hypo- 
crisy and dissimulation. He was not one of those 
systematic thinkers who are rightly censured if, 
in any respect, they abandon their principles. 
Moreover, his theoretic principles — at least, as 
he understood them — did not exclude religion ; 
and he had the further principle to be practical 
in all cases — to have an eye to the advantage of 


science under all circumstances. And he found 
that the interests of science were better served 
by keeping peace with religion than by waging 
war with it. This prudential course he could 
adopt without hypocrisy. By avoiding hostility 
on the one side, he obtained security on the other, 
and this security was necessary. The less philo- 
sophy — which Bacon sought to reform, and above 
all to render serviceable — the less philosophy 
encroached upon the region of theology, the more 
cautiously it confined itself within certain limits, 
the less reason had it to dread a hostile aggression 
on the other side, and the more time it acquired 
for its own undisturbed progress. For this purpose 
Bacon treated the relation of science to theology, 
as a sort of " foreign aflfair," with practical circum- 
spection, with politic tact, with more prudence 
than boldness. The inoffensive and subordinate 
position which Bacon took with regard to religion 
was not a cloak of infidelity, but an expedient for 
the protection of his philosophy. 

Let us suppose the impossible case, that Bacon 
had denied and assailed religion, and had thus 
begun a new religious controversy ; what would 
have been the practical result, if, indeed, there 
had been any such result at all ? The foundation 
of a new religious party — of a sect — which would 
X 3 


have increased the divisions in the church. And 
Bacon, forsooth, should have been the man to 
aim at a practical result like this! A deter- 
mined foe to the spirit of sectarianism, he should 
have encouraged that spirit I He did not wish to 
found a school even in philosophy, and yet he' 
should have founded a sect in religion ! Surely 
he cannot be fairly censured because he did not 
employ means repugnant to himself towards an 
equally repugnant end. The repugnant means 
would have been verbal disputations about dogmas, 
the repugnant end would have been a religious 
sect. For the sake of science his heart was on 
the side of peace. He considered his own epoch 
favourable for science, because after long conten- 
tions and wars a moment of peace had returned, 
and therefore the works of peace, to which, above 
all, art and science belong, could now hope for a 
new and flourishing era. For the sake of peace 
he decided unconditionally in favour of the Unity 
of the church, which he advocated in his cele- 
brated essays. " Religion being the chief bond 
of human society, it is a happy thing when 
itself is well contained within the true bond 
of unity. The quarrels and divisions about 
religion were things unknown to the heathen." 
Again, " The fruit (of unity) towards those that 
are within the church is peace, which containeth 


Infinite blessings." * To secure peace he favoured 
ecclesiastical unity, based upon the decrees of 
religion ; and thus he less than any would attempt 
to peril this unity by an attack. He fully re- 
cognised the maxim, which perfectly expresses 
his position — " He who is not against us is 
with us." 

Let us suppose, further, that Bacon, by em- 
ploying the repugnant means of religious con- 
troversy, had obtained the repugnant end, and 
established a new religious sect, what would have 
been the consequence ? A new and zealous sec- 
tarian spirit — that is to say, a new fanaticism — 
that would have been the greatest impediment 
to the philosophical thinker. Fanaticism is blind 
religious zeal, and thus appeared in the eyes of 
Bacon as the most venomous degeneracy in 
religion — as a leprosy to which he openly and 
boldly opposed the principle of toleration. 


If Bacon, for the sake of peace, avoided all 
religious controversy, and shunned every step 
that might disturb ecclesiastical unity, he could 
not do otherwise than require a similar pacific 
disposition on the side of religion and the church. 
For what is gained by a peaceful acknowledg- 

• Essay HI. " Of Unity in Eeligion." 
X 4 


ment of the church, if the church itself desires 
war? Here Bacon sets a defined impassable 
limit to the authority of religion and the church. 
He would have the spirit of turbulence sup- 
pressed and restrained within the church itself. 
Within the church an interruption to peace arises 
from a blind religious zeal, which is always in^ 
clined to violent outbreaks. Its practical form 
is fanaticism in the cause of propagandism, its 
theoretical form is superstition ; and to these forms 
Bacon respectively sets a restraining and nega- 
tive limit. The practical check to that fanatical 
propaganda, which we may appropriately call the 
ecclesiastical spirit of conquest, or the passion for 
religious supremacy, is to be found in the state 
and in policy. The theoretical check to supersti- 
tion is to be found in science, more especially in 
natural philosophy. Superstition is the internal 
ground of religious fanaticism, which, in its turn, 
is the ground of religious wars. The latter 
should be prevented by the state, the former 
by science. In the eyes of Bacon it is a false 
unity in religion that is based upon superstition ; 
for superstition is ignorance, mental darkness, 
and "in the dark all colours are alike." And 
equally false is that ecclesiastical unity which 
seeks to extend itself by violent expedients, and 
in religious wars gives rise to those horrors that 


have always had a tendency (and justly too) to 
awake a dislike to the church. To prevent these. 
Bacon makes the church subordinate to the 
secular authority, that it may never disturb civil 
peace or attack the power of the state, which of 
all human powers is the highest. It must never 
wield the sword of Mahomet. In a word, Bacon 
disarms the church in the name of the state. If 
religion attacks the state, " that is but to dash the 
first table against the second, and so to connect 
men as Christians, as we forget that they are men. 
Lucretius, the poet, when he beheld the act of 
Agamemnon, that could endure the sacrificing 
of his own daughter, exclaimed: Tantum religio 
potuit suadere malorum. What would he have 
said if he had known of the massacre in France, 
or the powder treason of England? He would 
have been seven times more an epicure and 
atheist than he was."* 

Against the fanatical propagation of religion, 
the authority of the state opposes a secure barrier. 
This severe discipline and surveillance of the 
state is above all things necessary, that religion 
may not kindle the torch of political revolution. 
To this danger, which was imminent in his own 
age. Bacon calls especial attention. It is partly 
to be apprehended that religion by its affinity to 

» Essay IIL " Of Unity in Religion." 


fanaticism, and fanaticism by its affinity to — or 
more correctly speaking, its accordance with — bar- 
barism, may let loose the rabble, and array all the 
wilful feelings with which it is connected against 
the state. Thus arise religious civil wars, the 
most terrible of all political evils. If a reform 
in the church is requisite, it should be effected, 
not by the people, but by the state. Thus 
Bacon's position with respect to religion is com- 
pletely in accordance with the example set by 
the English reformation, — by the age of Henry 
the Eighth and Elizabeth. " As the temporal 
sword is to be drawn with great circumspection 
in cases of religion, so it is a thing monstrous to 
put it in the hands of the common people ; let 
that be left to the Anabaptists and other furies. 
It was great blasphemy when the devil said, ' I 
will ascend and be like the Highest; ' but it is 
greater blasphemy to personate God and bring 
him in saying, 'I will descend and be like the 
prince of darkness;' and what is it better, to make 
the cause of religion to descend to the cruel and 
execrable actions of murdering princes, butchery 
of people, and subversion of states and govern- 
ments ! Surely this is to bring down the Holy 
Ghost, instead of the likeness of a dove, in the 
shape of a vulture or raven, and to set out of the 
bark of a Christian church a flag of a bark of 


pirates and assassins. Therefore it is most neces- 
sary that the church by doctrine and decree, 
princes by their sword, and all learnings, both 
Christian and moral, as by their Mercury rod, do 
damn and send to hell for ever those facts and 
opirdons tending to the support of the same, as 
hath been already in good part done." * 

Thus is Bacon's position with regard to religion 
most clearly indicated by himself. He carries the 
staff of the herald, who proclaims an armistice. He 
desires peace, and therefore he professes an uncon- 
ditional acknowledgment of that revealed reli- 
gion which is likewise adopted by the state, at the 
same time requiring an equally pacific disposition 
on the side of the church, which is no longer to 
wield secular power, but to leave this whoUy in 
the hands of the state; thus removing all those 
means of coercion by which it oppresses consciences 
and disturbs peace. Every coercion of conscience 
attempted by the church unequivocally betrays 
a design to grasp secular authority. Bacon con- 
cludes his essay " Of the Unity of the Church," 
with the following words: — "It was a suitable 
observation of a wise father, and no less ingeni- 
ously composed, that those which held and per- 
suaded pressure of consciences, were commonly 
interested therein themselves for their own ends." 

* Essay IIL "Of Unity in Religion." 



What Bacon unconditionally acknowledges is 
that pacific and peace-promoting religion which 
alone proceeds from the Deity ; what he uncon- 
ditionally rejects is that peace-destroying and be- 
nighted religion which is based on human super- 
stitions. Revealed religion is opposed to the 
reason, but never to the good of man. This 
point of view, which regards practical utility, 
was so firmly established in Bacon, that he ever 
made it a standard of the Divine will. But while 
he is so respectful and submissive towards positive 
revealed religion, he is equally uncompromising 
and critical with regard to superstition, to which, 
when it expresses itself practically, he opposes 
the secular power as a public institution ; and to 
which, when it expresses itself theoretically, he 
opposes science as a remedy. In this sense he. 
must be understood, when he says of natural 
philosophy that it Is the sweet medicine of su- 
perstition, and the most faithful handmaid of 

Superstition, In the eyes of Bacon, is the ex- 
aggerated, degenerate, and really selfish religion, 
which to him appears far worse than degenerate 

* " Certissima superstitionis medicina." " Keligioni fidissima 
ancilla." — Nov, Org. I. 89. 


philosopliy. The degeneracy of philosophy is 
infidelity or atheism, which Bacon refutes by 
means of natural theology. This is opposed to 
infidelity, as revealed theology is opposed to 
superstition. If there was no choice possible 
beside that between atheism and superstition. 
Bacon would declare unconditionally in favour of 
atheism, because it does not appear to him so 
bad as the other. Whether theoretically or 
practically considered, superstition appears to 
him the more mischievous of the two ; for theo- 
retically it is an unworthy notion of the Deity, 
which it perverts into an idol; practically, it 
is dangerous to man, because it favours im- 
morality and fanaticism, and therefore difiuses a 
peace-destroying venom through human society. 
Atheism has no notion of the Deity ; this is 
better than a notion that is absurd and opposed 
to His true nature. It is better, he thinks, to 
pass over or deny the existence of a Deity, than 
to dishonour it by the unworthiest notions. This 
is done by superstition, which is, in truth, a 
"pasquill against the Divine Being. Plutarch 
sayeth well to that purpose: ' Surely,' saith 
he, ' I had rather a great deal men should say 
there was no such man at all as Plutarch, than 
that they should say that there was one Plutarch 
that would eat his children as soon as they were 


born,' as the poets speak of Saturn."* Supersti- 
tion tyrannises over men, produces discord among 
them, and corrupts all the healthy powers of the 
mind ; nothing of the sort is done by atheism. 
" Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, 
to natural piety, to laws, to reputation ; all 
which may be guides to an outward moral 
virtue, though religion were not; but super- 
stition dismounts all these, and seeketh an ab- 
solute monarchy in the minds of men ; therefore 
atheism did never perturb states ; for it makes 
men wary of themselves, as looking no further ; 
and we see the times inclined to atheism (as the 
time of Augustus Cassar) were civil times. "f 
Superstition, on the contrary, leads to political 
aberrations. " Superstition hath been the con- 
fusion of many states, and bringeth in a ' primum 

* Essay XVII. " Of Superstition." Here is a specimen of tlie 
contradictions, of wliich, if we will, we may find many in the 
works of Bacon. He has previously said that he prefers super- 
stition to atheism ; he now says that he prefers atheism to 
superstition. With the former declaration he begins his discourse 
against atheism ; with the latter his discourse against super- 
stition. Which of the two did Bacon really prefer to the other ? 
Let the reasons be examined which he opposes to each, and it 
will be found that they are more numerous and stronger against 
superstition than against atheism. Thus the contradiction 
which exists in his words is solved in his own mind. Indeed, it 
only exists in the eyes of superficial readers, and I should like 
to know an author who to such readers is without contradiction. 
— Author's Note. 

t Essay XVH. " Of Superstition." 


mobile' that ravisheth all the spheres of govern- 
ment. The master of superstition is the people, 
and in all superstition wise men follow fools ; 
and arguments are fitted to practice in a reversed 
order." * If we look for the causes of superstition, 
we shall find them to be " Pleasing and sensual 
rites and ceremonies ; excess of outward and 
Pharisaical holiness ; ever great reverence of 
tradition, which cannot but bind the church ; the 
stratagems of prelates for their own ambition and 
honour ; the proving too much of good intentions, 
which openeth the gate to conceits and novelties ; 
the taking an aim at divine matters by human, 
which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations ; 
and, lastly, barbarous times, especially joined with 
calamities and disasters." f We must not allow 
ourselves to be deceived by the similarity of 
superstition to religion. This very similarity 
renders it the more hideous. " As it addeth 
deformity to an ape to be like a man, so the simi- 
litude of superstition to religion makes it the 
more deformed." Bacon prudently adds, how- 
ever : " There is a superstition in avoiding super- 
stition, when men think to do best if they go 
furthest from the superstition formerly received ; 
therefore care would be had (as it fareth in 
ill-purgings) the good be not taken away with 

» Essay XVIL " Of Superstition." f Ibid. 


the bad, which commonly is done when the people 
is the reformer." 

Superstition, tyrannical and selfish as it is, hates 
its adversary, and brands every one that opposes 
it with the name of atheist. How great caution 
must be observed in the use of this name! 
Atheism is " Godlessness (^Gottlosigkeii). True 
atheism is that practical godlessness which, under 
the appearance of religion, favours selfish interests, 
and conduces to private advantages." Theore- 
tical godlessness — speculative atheism — is alto- 
gether very rare. " The great atheists, indeed, 
are hypocrites, which are ever handling holy 
things, but without feeling; so as they must 
needs be cauterised in the end." 

5. bacon's own eeligious sentiments. 

The religious character of Bacon is in accord- 
ance with his philosophy. Even with respect to 
this extremely recondite point (for a man's own 
religious views belong to his own heart) we can 
pronounce a definite judgment. He was utterly 
averse to superstition, as the deformed religion 
of human conceit, and attacked it with scientific 
(more particularly physical) " enlightenment ; " 
to atheism he opposed scientific reasons, but with- 
out any feeling of animosity whatever. Kevealed 


religion and the church that is based upon it, he 
acknowledged for reasons with which his theo- 
retical views did not interfere; while with his 
practical and political views they were fully in 
accordance. He desired to see revealed religion 
purified, like natural science, from all human 
idols. On this point he was as thoroughly anti- 
catholic as became a genuine follower of the 
age of the Reformation. He wished to adopt 
revealed religion without any logical form of 
proof; and on this point he thought antischo- 
lastically as the founder of a new philosophy. 
This philosophy could furnish no arguments to 
prove the articles of revealed religion, and Bacon's 
mind was exactly fitted to perceive this incapacity 
in his philosophy. All that it could ofier to reli- 
gion was a formal, unconditional acknowledgment. 
I am willing to concede that Bacon's personal 
position at the Court of James I., his regard for 
the king, and the exigencies of the time generally, 
together with many collateral motives, may have 
greatly influenced and confirmed him in the ex- 
pression of this acknowledgment. With a merely 
formal acknowledgment it is easy to speak in any 
key; and Bacon sometimes employed the lan- 
guage of simple piety. Human authority in 
religion he desired to attack ; Divine authority he 
desired unconditionally to acknowledge. It may, 


indeed, be asked what Bacon assumed as the 
decisive test of Divine authority. If he had pro- 
posed this question to himself he w^ould have been 
compelled to answer it with "the Scriptures," and 
thus have fallen into contradiction with some of 
his own scientific notions. But it belonged to 
the religious character of his age not to inves- 
tigate seriously the question of Biblical authority. 
Bacon's formal acknowledgment of revealed reli- 
gion did not exclude an internal acknowledgment, 
though I will not say that it proved one. At all 
events, a mind like his was too wide and compre- 
hensive for that species of " enlightenment" which 
absolutely denies everything that it is unable to 
explain. This kind of enlightenment he left to 
later philosophers, who could think more nar- 
rowly, and therefore more systematically, than 
himself. However, the internal acknowledgment 
of religion, for which his intellect, occupied as it 
was with worldly interests, both scientific and 
practical, still found room, was neither a jealous 
nor a profound emotion. Like all his other incli- 
nations, it was cool. Bacon's belief rested upon a 
suppressed doubt, with respect to which it main- 
tained a constant equilibrium. His real interest 
was centred in the world, in nature, and in expe- 
rience ; religious faith was not, and never became, 
the treasure of his heart. For this he lacked the 


simple and childish mind — the fitting vessel for 
faith. In religion, as in everything else, he had 
begun with doubt, and his treatise on the " Chris- 
tian Paradoxes" (1645), which belonged to an 
early period of his life, and did not appear till 
after his death, proves his theological scepticism. 
He knew the points of opposition between reli- 
gious revelation and human reason, before he 
set them aside by an arbitrary decision. The 
religious disposition of Bacon is best character- 
ised by negative predicates. We can distinctly 
say what it was not. It was not hypocrisy, for 
his acknowledgment was meant sincerely; neither 
was it piety, for worldly Interests lay nearest to 
his heart, and he was naturally deficient in those 
qualities that constitute the essence — not to say 
the genius — of religion; namely, an unsophisti- 
cated readiness to believe, and a child-like need of 
faith. If we conceive his religious views nearer 
to Infidelity than to superstition, and equally re- 
moved from both genuine piety and hypocrisy, 
we shall hit upon the right place — a cool medium, 
which may closely border on religious Indifference, 
If It does not exactly correspond to It. Consi- 
dered with respect to his own feelings, his ac- 
knowledgment of religion did not cost him so 
much as a disguise. His views on this subject 
did not proceed from the fulness of his heart, but 

T 2 


amounted to a well-considered and well-guided 
deportment ; they were not a mask, but a dress 
suited to the age, which we find perfectly natural; 
still, strictly speaking, they were scarcely more 
than his garments. 


Gious Views of Bacon. 


To be understood superficially and to be judged 
partially is the very intelligible fate of all philo- 
sophers. One-sided judgments pronounced by 
an acute intellect are always suspicious ; for they 
always regard one particular characteristic more 
than all the rest of a philosopher's peculiarities : 
and by dwelling on this especially render it 
especially prominent. With regard to the reli- 
gious position of Bacon, the judgments that have 
been pronounced upon it constitute a really in- 
teresting and instructive spectacle. By taking 
a one-sided view of that which was two-sided 
in Bacon's own nature, they necessarily contra- 
dict each other to the most violent degree. All 
the conceivable contradictory judgments that 
could be pronounced on Bacon's relation to re- 
ligion have been pronounced in fact, and serve to 


show what contradictions Bacon combined within 
himself. Compared with him, their judgments 
are one-sided; compared with each other, they 
form a perfect specimen of absolute contradiction. 
By public opinion in England Bacon is generally 
regarded as a genuine Churchman ; in Germany 
the correctness of this view is greatly doubted 
by those learned men who have touched upon the 
theme ; and in France it is so utterly denied, that 
Bacon's views are asserted to be in direct opposi- 
tion to those of the Church and religion. But 
even in France, where much more attention has 
been paid to Bacon than in Germany, voices dia- 
metrically opposed to each other have been heard, 
specimens of which we will cursorily compare. 

I must begin by remarking that the separation 
between revealed religion and human reason, 
which had been introduced by Bacon, found its 
way among minds of a very different order, and 
served as an expression for diametrically opposite 
interests. In short, the Baconian formula was 
greedily caught up by one party as a shield for 
faith, by another as a shield for infidelity. On 
this point there is a distinction between the 
seventeenth and the eighteenth century. In the 
latter, when progressive " enlightenment " still 
availed itself of the Baconian formula, it was 
always with an anti-religious view; the formula 

T 3 


had become a merely formal acknowledgment, of 
which we may say that it excluded all internal 
religion, and, indeed, concealed its opposite. In 
this form does the Baconian principle of faith 
appear with Condillac, who carries the Baconian 
philosophy to an extreme point of exclusive and 
perfected sensualism. In the seventeenth cen- 
tury, on the other hand, we find in France the 
same separation between faith and reason main- 
tained for the interests of faith. But within this 
positive establishment of faith a further opposi- 
tion is still possible ; for we have still to inquire 
on what grounds reason is sacrificed to revealed 
religion — whether this is done by piety or by 
scepticism ? It may be the interest of piety to 
immerse itself in Divine revelation, unchecked 
and unembarrassed by human reason. It-^may be 
the interest of the sceptical reason to sunder the 
knots of doubt with the sword of faith; not so 
much to sharpen the sword of faith as deprive 
reason of the power of solving its owp doubts — 
that is, to leave reason itself in a state of doubt. 
Reason is, in this case, sacrificed to faith, after it 
has surveyed on every side and analysed with 
sceptical acumen the contradictions of the latter. 
Such a triumph of faith over reason is, in fact, 
the triumph of the sceptic ; if doubts can only be 
resolved thus, they are really insoluble, and the 


sceptic has gained his victory. What he truly 
believes in is the uncertainty of human reason ; 
his creed is, in fact, a tfzsbelief in rational truth, 
which he translates into a blind faith in the truth 
of Divine revelation. Those opposite interests 
with respect to faith — the religious and the 
sceptical — are both founded on the Baconian 
separation between religion and philosophy. Two 
of the greatest and most interesting minds of the 
seventeenth century maintain this separation in 
the interest of faith, but exhibit the diversity just 
described. One is the Jansenist Blaise Pascal; 
the other the sceptic Pierre Bayle, 

When the Bacon formula had been taken up 
in such a one-sided manner, so as to appear now 
on the side of faith, now on that of infidelity, we 
cannot wonder that Bacon's own religious views 
were interpreted in a similar fashion ; so that 
some explained them through Pascal, others 
through Bayle, others, again, through Condillac. 
"Bacon was a decided unbeliever" — such was 
the judgment of Condillac and his school, the 
Encyclopsedists and their successors ; Mallet, the 
biographer of Bacon ; Cabanis, his panegyrist ; 
Lasalle, his translator, who openly asserts that 
Bacon was in his heart a thorough atheist, and 
in his external acknowledgment of religion a 

T 4 


mere hypocrite and courtier.* All these persons, 
who are members of the same intellectual family, 
regard Bacon as their ancestor, and by the family 
analogy judge him as one of themselves. At the 
same time we hear, on the other side, the opposite 
verdict — " He was a thorough believer." Such 
is the judgment of De Luc, the interpreter of 
the Baconian philosophy, against whom Lasalle 
defends the infidelity of Bacon. The Abbe 
Emery — the same who explained the views of 
Leibnitz on religion and morality — takes the 
same side as De Luc in his apologetic treatise on 
the Christianity of Bacon.f 

All these views are one-sided, and, moreover, 
far too vague to comprehend the whole mind of 
Bacon. But they are all in contact with him at 
some point or other, though this point is not the 
centre. Among those enumerated above the 
nearest akin to him are Condlllac and his fol- 
lowers, who bear to him about the same relation 
that the Wolfians bear to Leibnitz among the 
Germans. Freethinkers and believers have alike 
claimed Bacon as a partisan, each having looked 

* Mallet's " Life of Lord Bacon " prefixed to the edition of 
Bacon's works, published in London, 1740. Cabanis, " Rapport 
du Physique et du Moral de rHomme." Lasalle, " CEuvres de 
Bacon, preface generale." 

t De Luc, " Precis de la Philosophie de Bacon." Emery, 
" Christiauisme de Bacon." 


exclusively to the side that ia favourable to them- 
selves. Whatever has the appearance of religious 
faith in Bacon is regarded by the freethinkers as 
empty show — a mere mask — deliberate hypo- 
crisy. Lasalle, who calls himself " Bacon's valet," 
speaks unblushingly, like a valet, of this partie 
honteuse of his master. On the other hand, what- 
ever has the appearance of infidelity in Bacon is 
regarded by his religious admirers as a mere 
unimportant expression, or an error, that was 
afterwards detected by Bacon himself and in due 
time laid aside. " The praise which has been 
heaped on Bacon by the enemies of the Christian 
religion," says the Abbe Emery, " have almost 
brought suspicion upon his faith. But how 
joyfully are we surprised by his religious feeling 
and his pious utterances!" Thus, among be- 
lievers and unbelievers has Bacon found his 
apologists, or, to use a modern term, his advo- 
cates to plead for him. However, to complete 
the group, we still want the polemic contro- 
versialist, the advocatus diaboli, whom, in the 
case of Bacon, we can only find among a certain 
class of persons — namely, among the fanatics. 
And here we really do find this advocatus 
diaboli; — he comes, as if he were called, in the 
person of Count Joseph de Maistre, through 
whom French literature has at last, with a hearty 


good will, sought to fill up the gap caused in its 
Baconian documents by the absence of polemical 
controversy. Under the title " Examen de la 
Philosophie de Bacon,"* De Maistre has, in two 
volumes, attempted not merely to attack, but to 
annihilate Bacon. He is so far right in his 
thorough hostility that his point of view is diame- 
trically opposite to that of Bacon. Nothing was 
so repulsive as religious fanaticism to the tolerant 
thinker devoted to the study of natural science. 
De Maistre is ?i fanatic. To no ecclesiastical theory 
was Bacon more opposed than to the Catholic. 
Our readers must have already remarked that 
when Bacon describes superstition, he borrows his 
traits from Catholicism. Now De Maistre is not 
only a Catholic in the Ultramontane sense of the 
word, but he is a Jesuitical Catholic. To no 
scientific view was Bacon more decidedly opposed 
than to that of the schoolmen, by whom the 
theology of the middle ages was elaborated. De 
Maistre is an artificial schoolman, for his age 
prevents him from being a natural one ; he is a 
Romanticist, one of those who attempt an arti- 
ficial resuscitation of the past by means of a 
political restoration with mediaeval institutions. 

* " Examen de la Philosophie de Bacon, ou Ton traite dif- 
ferentes questions de la philosophie rationelle. CEuvre posthume 
du Comte Joseph de Maistre. 2 vols. Paris et Lyon, 1836." 


Therefore, passing over the Baconian philosophy, 
he takes his stand at a grade of cultivation that 
Bacon has left behind him ; which is an unlucky 
position for the polemics of Count de Maistre, 
inasmuch as he only sees the back of the object he 
attacks, and on the strength of this aspect passes 
judgment upon Bacon. If we compare them with 
each other, we find that their points of view, not 
the ages in which they lived, are opposed to each 
other. Bacon's opposition to scholasticism was 
natural, necessary, decided ; De Maistre's opposi- 
tion to Bacon is artificial, forced, unsteady, and, 
because he would be most decided, he becomes, in 
the highest degree, violent, unjust, and irrational. 
Thus the crusade which the French Bomantlcist 
of the nineteenth century would preach against 
the English philosopher of the seventeenth is 
poisoned and corrupted in the outset. 

What De Maistre finds most intolerable in the 
Baconian philosophy is the separation between 
philosophy and religion — science and theology — 
that is first introduced by Bacon. What most 
excites his wrath in the Baconian philosophy is 
the precedence given to physics, and the secondary 
rank conceded to moral and political science. Only 
the second place, he thinks, belongs to physical 
science; the first place belongs of right to theology, 
morals, and politics. Every people that does not 


rigidly observe this order of precedence is in a 
state of decline. The Eomanticist is dreaming of 
those ecclesiastical forefathers and schoolmen who 
philosophised for the benefit of the Church. He 
maintains, in opposition to Bacon, a similar union 
of religion and philosophy ; nevertheless he so far 
forgets himself as to defend this union by argu- 
ments that do not belong to scholasticism but to 
" enlightenment." One can hardly believe one's 
own eyes, when, to prove the accordance of reve- 
lation with reason, De Maistre advances arguments 
that have been already employed by Lessing. He 
speaks of the educational course of Divine revela- 
tions, and of their natural fitness to the compre- 
hensive power of the human understanding; and 
shows that no revelation is anything more than an 
earlier-communicated truth, an "enlightenment" 
under pedagogical auspices. Where a De Maistre 
should rest his defence solely on the authority of 
the Church, he has recourse to the rational argu- 
ments afforded by an " enlightenment " foreign 
to the Church. When the modern diplomatist 
espouses the cause of scholasticism against Bacon, 
he becomes a Romanticist; when he defends 
it as its advocate, he becomes a sophist, and 
shares the fate of all his party. While resting 
upon the authority of the Church, which has force 
on its side, persons of this class may triumph ; 


but when they have recourse to rational argu- 
ments, they inconsistently sacrifice their own 
principles, and are defeated to such a degree that 
they voluntarily surrender their weapons to the 
enemy. However, Bacon is by no means the 
sole mark for the polemics of De Maistre. In 
the person of Bacon, De Maistre would annihi- 
late a whole race — a whole age — the eighteenth 
century, with all the representatives of the French 
" enlightenment. " Every blow that Bacon re- 
ceives from the hands of De Maistre is intended, 
at the same time, for Condillac and the Ency- 
clopaedists. De Maistre's book against Bacon 
is a declaration of war on the part of the French 
Romanticism of the nineteenth century against 
the French " enlightenment " of the eighteenth. 
" Bacon," says De Maistre, " was the idol of 
the eighteenth century ; he was the ancestor 
of CondiUac, and must be judged according to 
his descendants — his intellectual kindred — and 
these were a Locke, a Hobbes, a Voltaire, a 
Helvetius, a Condillac, a Diderot, a D'Alembert, 
&c. Bacon laid down the principle of the Eucy- 
clopEedists, and these in return spread abroad his 
fame, and elevated him to the throne of philo- 
sophy. He was the originator of that * Theo- 
misia' that filled the mind of the eighteentli 


Such, according to De Maistre, is the historical 
importance of Bacon, which is unquestionably 
great and extensive. The advocacy of " enlighten- 
ment " has all the more interest in reducing this 
character to its true value, as a whole hostile 
century dates from it as from a beginning. From 
lengthy tirades we will endeavour to bring to- 
gether the characteristic traits that will show our 
readers the image of Bacon as it existed in the 
mind of De Maistre. It is a caricature unlike 
anything in humanity, that, instead of rendering 
its object detestable, makes its originator ridi- 
culous. Fanaticism spoils every talent, even the 
talent for distortion, destroying the last vestige 
of similarity with nature, because there is nothing 
in common between nature and itself. 

De Maistre chiefly estimates the object of his 
criticism from the Roman Catbolic point of view, 
which he calls the Christian. And from this 
point of view, what is the aspect of Bacon ? He 
was, says De Maistre, what the Encyclopaedists 
called him, an infidel, a decided atheist. Never- 
theless, he spoke in praise of faith, and al- 
lowed it unconditional authority. " So much 
the worse," says De Maistre ; " he was likewise 
a consummate hypocrite." Here good service 
is done by Lasalle, who also declared that his 
lord and master, as he called Bacon, was an 


atheist with a hypocritical mask. But where does 
De Maistre find the criteria for Bacon's in- 
fidelity and hypocrisy? Here we have a fine 
specimen of the keenness of De Maistre's scent 
in sniflSng out such criteria. Indeed, so keen a 
scent would scarcely allow any one to escape. 
In the twenty- ninth aphorism of the second 
book of his " Novum Organum," Bacon says that 
the uncommon phenomena of nature, monstrous 
births, &c., should be examiaed and collected, 
but with caution, and that those above all must 
be regarded with suspicion that have their source 
in religion, as is the case with the prodigies of 
Livy. De Maistre lays violent hands on this 
passage, in which Bacon is made to confess his 
atheism and hypocrisy at once. The passage 
cited refers to remarkable natural phenomena ; — 
not to wonders, but to monsters {monstra), as, in- 
deed. Bacon calls them. As far as these are con- 
cerned Bacon would not have implicit credit 
given to religious narratives, whatever they may 
be. "Stop!" cries De Maistre, "this is flat 
blasphemy ! Bacon here means Christianity ; 
— he blasphemes the true religion ; — he is no 
Christian ; — he is an atheist ! " But Bacon 
adds, by way of example, the prodigies narrated 
by Livy, and further on he cites the writers 
on natural magic and alchemy. The Christian 


miracles, which are not even included in the 
category, never occur to his mind. "Here," 
cries De Maistre, "is a hypocrite; — he means 
Christianity^ and he cites Livy. See how the 
clever actor can conceal himself in a moment, by 
using Livy as a mask. I can say to him in the 
words of Madame de Sevigne, ' Gentle masque, 
I know you.' He says that where monsters are 
concerned, religious narratives are not to be be- 
lieved, whatever they may be.* Thus it stands 
written, ' whatever they may be.' He means 
all, the Christian included." Because Bacon 
is doubtful with respect to the records of mon- 
sters, he is regarded by De Maistre as un-Chris- 
tian; because he refers to Livy, he is looked 
upon as a hypocrite. 

And what is the scientific rank of Bacon in the 
opinion of one who has just unmasked him as an 
atheist and hypocrite in religion ? " He preaches 
science," says De Maistre, "just as his Church 
preaches Christianity — without a mission." Count 
de Maistre will permit us, in our turn, to use the 
expression of Madame de Sevigne with reference 
to himself : " Gentle masque, we know you." He 

* The words in the passage referred to are — " Maxime autem 
habenda sunt pro suspectis, quae procedunt quomodocungue a 
religione ; ut prodigia Livii ;" and thus De Maistre's reasoning 
is even more inaccurate than appears in the text. — J. O. 


attacks Bacon, not merely as the intellectual pro- 
genitor of Condillac, as the idol of the eighteenth 
century, as the philosopher, but also as the — Pro- 
testant. A Protestant, a member of the rebellious 
Church, withdraws from the Mother Church the 
service of philosophy, undertakes the hegemony 
of science, and hands it over to Protestantism. 
This unpleasant fact is a heavy grievance to the 
fanatical Catholic, the romantic schoolman, the 
diplomatist of the restoration, and he would 
gladly get rid of such a stumbling-block of 
offence. Bacon had as much a vocation to be 
the reformer of science, as Protestantism to ef- 
fect a reformation of the Church; which, in 
De Maistre's language, means he had no voca- 
tion at all, but in our language denotes that he 
had a high vocation indeed ; and to this high 
vocation the three centuries during which Pro- 
testantism has existed and flourished, bear ample 
testimony. According to the judgment of De 
Maistre, Bacon was not a scientific genius. 
Why? Because he made no discoveries him- 
self, but only wrote on the art of making dis- 
coveries ; because he was a theorist with respect 
to this art. We may as well reproach the writer 
on esthetics for not being himself an artist. If 
people treating of subjects only say what they 
are not, there is no end to verbosity. The number 


of Infinite propositions*, as logic calls them, is 
itself infinite. Logic should extract specimens of 
these infinite propositions (which, in point of fact, 
are no propositions) from the works of our critics. 
But if Bacon was no more a scientific genius 
than a writer on aesthetics is an artist, what was 
he after all ? He was, according to the deci- 
sion of De Maistre, a mere writer f of the most 
frivolous and rudest kind, and, moreover, without 
a trace of originality; for his language abounds 
in Gallicisms. His love for science was an un- 
happy and sterile love — like the passion of a 
eunuch ! His so-called philosophy is a spiritless 
materialism, uncertain and unsteady in its ex- 
pression, frivolous in tone, and full of fallacies in 
every assertion. De Maistre will not acknow- 
ledge a single spark of truth in Bacon, but con- 
stantly repeats expressions of the profoundest con- 
tempt. We see that we are concerned with a 
mere maniac, who, at every word, plunges deeper 
and deeper into an inconsiderate and therefore 
ridiculous rage ; and, under the name of Bacon, 
maltreats a bugbear that is but his own bungling 
handiwork ; as for instance, when we read such 
propositions as these : — " The general impression 

* E. g., "Man is a non -horse." — J. O. 

t " Ein belletristicher Schriftsteller." There is no equivalent 
for this expression. — J. 0. 


left upon me after a careful examination of Bacon, 
is a feeling of thorough mistrust, and, therefore, of 
thorough contempt. I despise him in every 
respect — both when he says Yes, and when he 
says No." " Bacon is wrong when he affirms ; 
wrong when he denies ; wrong when he doubts ; 
wrong, in a word, wherever error is possible to 
man." And the basis of this thoroughly false 
and pernicious philosophy was as vain and des- 
picable as the philosophy itself. It was nothing 
but a morbid love of invention, the " disease of 
neologism," that seduced Bacon and the whole 
modern philosophy in England, France, and Ger- 
many. A mere desire to oppose the ancients 
gave to all the so-called systems of modern phi- 
losophy their ephemeral existence, and to the 
founders thereof that ephemeral fame, that Count 
de Maistre annihilates with the breath of his 
mouth. His indignant glance discovers — not 
without pity — the greatest and most difficult 
thinker of modern philosophy — the German Im- 
manuel Kant — in the ranks of the neologista. 
It is amusing to find a Kant before the tribunal 
of a De Maistre, and still more amusing to hear 
the sentence pronounced upon the greatest of 
philosophers by the least unbiassed of judges. 
In the opinion of De Maistre, Kant might have 
been a philosopher if he had not been a charlatan. 
z 2 


The incomparable passage is to this effect: — "If 
Kant had, with all simplicity, followed a Plato, a 
Descartes, and a Malebranche, the world would 
Ions have ceased to talk of Locke ; and France 
would, perchance, have become better instructed 
with respect to her miserable and ridiculous Con- 
dlUac. Instead of this, Kant abandoned himself 
to that unhappy desire for innovation that will not 
be indebted to any one. He discoursed like an 
obscure oracle. He would say nothing like other 
people, but invented a language of his own; and 
not content with requiring us to learn German 
(and no slight requisition that), he would even 
compel us to learn Kant. And what is the re- 
sult ? Among his own countrymen he excited a 
transient fermentation, an artificial enthusiasm, a 
scholastic commotion, that found its limit on the 
right bank of the Rhine ; for as soon as the inter- 
preters of Kant ventured to cross this boundary, 
and attempted to palm off their stuff upon the 
French, the latter were unable to restrain their 

I am sincerely afraid that a similar fortune will 
befall Count de Maistre among the countrymen of 
Bacon and of Kant ; and, indeed, we shall laugh 
at him on other grounds than those on which the 
French laugh at Kant ; we shall laugh at his 
expense, not at our own. 




The motives that determine Bacon's position with 
respect to religion, and compel it to proceed by a 
compounded, and, we may say, diagonal path, are 
many and various. The movement is guided by 
springs that co-operate in very different directions. 
To understand the Baconian tendency in matters 
of faith, it is necessary to resolve it carefully into 
its original motives. Those who interpret it as 
merely positive or merely negative, do not under- 
stand it. As the whole realistic philosophy of 
modern times has its root in Bacon, in him also is 
to be found the beginning of all those relations 
which arise between that realism and religious 
faith. Bacon's religious views implicitly contain 
all those characteristic features that were after- 
wards propagated by the Anglo-Gallic "enlighten- 
ment " (^Aufkldrung). His natural theology im- 
plants that germ of Deism which was developed, 
especially in the eighteenth century, by a series 
of English philosophers. And, indeed, this deism 

z 3 


is determined, even in Bacon, as something that 
deviates from historical religion. Bacon, on the 
side of philosophy, professes for historical or re- 
vealed religion an unconditional veneration that 
excludes all criticism by the reason, inasmuch as, 
at the very outset, he admits the impossibility of 
arriving at positive religion by the way of philo- 
sophy, and reduces to a formula the blind sub- 
jection of reason to faith. But while thus sub- 
ordinated, science is nevertheless allowed to move 
freely in its own region, unimpeded by religious 
authority. He would, therefore, place the Church 
under the control of the State, and deprive it of 
all those means by which, through its power, it 
might violently curb the freedom of the mind. 
The Church is to be respectfully acknowledged, 
but is not to rule. Hence Bacon desires the de- 
struction of religious supremacy and the establish- 
ment of religious toleration ; and zeal against the 
former, and in favour of the latter, was ever 
manifested by the " enlightened " in England and 
Erance, however various the positions they might 
take with respect to historical religion. Bacon, 
not Hobbes, was the first to insist that the sword 
of the Church should be taken out of the hands 
of the priests, and placed in those of the State. 
Bacon, not Locke, was the first to give empha- 
tic expression to the principle of toleration, and 


to demand its establishment for the interests of 

But from the Baconian point of view may be 
deduced, not only deism and the principle of 
toleration, but also that decided infidelity which 
succeeded the introduction of his philosophy in 
England, and, more particularly, in France. 
Infidelity, atheism, and the general negation of 
the religious element is, indeed, the perpetual 
expression of philosophical materialism. Indeed, 
between materialism and atheism there is always 
a logical connection. In Bacon himself, a tend- 
ency to materialism is as apparent as it is ex- 
plicable, (being only concealed, and, as it were, 
built over by the metaphysics on which Natural 
Theology — that first beginning of Deism — is 
based. I The mind of Bacon lived in physics ; his 
purely physical interpretation of things was, in 
its very principle, mechanical, and, therefore, 
materialistic. From the physical point of view 
he opposed superstition; and when he had to 
choose between superstition and atheism, he gave 
every possible reason for a preference of the 
latter. This predilection for atheism is consis- 
tent; a consequence of his inclination to mate- 
rialism. When, therefore, philosophy drops her 
formal acknowledgment of positive religion, and, 
so far, extends her physical interpretation of 
z 4 


things as to do away with metaphysics and na- 
tural theology, it will no longer be satisfied with 
preferring atheism to superstition, but openly set 
up the former in the place of religion. 

If we now compare religion and philosophy as 
they appeared to Bacon, we are struck by the 
logical incompatibility of the one with the other ; 
and to render the contradiction clear, we must 
accurately define Bacon's conceptions of them 
both. Higher or even different conceptions were 
never attained during the whole of the so-called 
" enlightenment " that followed him. Religion, 
in Bacon's sense of the wordj is a divine (or 
supernatural) revelation; philosophy, in Bacon's 
sense of the word, is the interpretation of nature. 
The foundation of the divine revelation is, accord- 
ing to Bacon, a divine arbitrary will, by which 
all necessity is excluded ; the natural foundation 
of things is mechanical necessity, which excludes 
all operation by final causes, and, a fortiori, every- 
thing like an arbitrary will. Thus philosophy 
knows nothing of uncontrolled will, and religion 
nothing of necessity. A mere arbitrary will is 
vrithout a cause, and therefore incomprehensible. 
Therefore, if Bacon could not find another found- 
ation for religion than such a will, he was quite 
right in declaring its incomprehensibility. If 
reason, when investigating religion, can only dis- 


cern contradictions, -which it is absolutely unable 
to solve, then Bacon was quite right in putting an 
end to so many aimless disputes, so much idle de- 
bate with reasons and counter-reasons, by silencing 
reason altogether, and declaring that it was his 
duty to acknowledge without condition the divine 
articles of faith. To see this, we have only to un- 
derstand the grade of culture occupied by human 
reason within the sphere of the Baconian philo- 
sophy; the value which, on the one hand, it assigns 
to religion, and, on the other, to itself. Religion, 
according to Bacon, is a positive system of faith, 
composed of divine statutes, appointed by the abso- 
lute wUl of God without any extrinsic cause. And 
what is the value of reason in its own eyes ? In 
all natural things it is experience; in all super- 
natural things both reason and all valid conclu- 
sions cease together with experience. Beyond 
the limits of experience, it is lost in empty dispu- 
tations, and in sterile, interminable arguments. 
Considered in reference to nature, human reason 
is a science conformed to experience ; considered 
with reference to religion, a mere sophist, animal 
disputax. In religion the divine wUl despoti- 
cally rules ; in the philosophy of religion, human 
caprice exercises an arbitrary r>ile by its argu- 
ments. This is Bacon's view of the subject; thus 
does he determine the mutual rights of religion 


and reason ; and, therefore, when he makes reason 
subservient to religion, this simply means that he 
forces the human will to be silent in the presence 
of the divine. And granted that this is the true 
relation of the rights on both sides, how could he 
decide otherwise between them ? Reason arrives 
at conclusions, and for every one of them a major 
premiss — a rule — a law is required. The laws 
of nature we must discover, for they are concealed 
in the things of the natural world. The laws of 
religion we must assume, for they are revealed by 
God. Reason is permitted to draw conclusions 
from these laws, but not to alter or to test them. 
They are premisses established from eternity, which 
are employed, but not made, by reason. How 
Bacon understands this secondary use of reason, 
he tells in an incidental comparison, which very 
characteristically illustrates his views of religion. 
According to him it may be compared with a 
game — chess, for instance — the rules of which 
must not be violated or even criticised by the 
players ; but which nevertheless may be rationally 
applied, so that deductions may be made from 
them. The case of positive religion is similar. It 
is (reverentially speaking) a game*, the rules of 
which are established by the Divine will, and 

* This singular simile occurs in "De Augment." IX., towards 
the end. 

THE "chess" simile. • 347 

communicated by revelation to man. If we have 
to do with religion, we must not disturb her 
rules, but simply adopt them as they are given to 
us, and make no other use of our own reason 
than in judging according to their guidance. 

I. Bacon and Batle. 

Religion under the likeness of a game, — this in- 
voluntary simile on the part of Bacon really shows 
in a very striking manner the weak side of his 
religious view ; for though it was quite consistent 
with this view, and was, no doubt, innocently 
intended by Bacon, it is in reality profane, and 
its profanity becomes more and more evident as 
the realistic mode of thought becomes more and 
more defined and systematic among his successors. 
An attempt was soon made so to play this game 
at chess, that human reason could cry " check- 
mate " to religion. To compare religion with a 
game, is, in fact, to treat it as a stake ; and the 
philosophy that was derived from Bacon per- 
suaded itself, after a few moves, that it had won the 
game. According to the conception that is formed 
of the nature of religion and philosophy from 
the Baconian point of view, they form exclusive 
spheres, diametrically opposite to each other, and 
therefore in a state of mutual contradiction. The 


opposition was silenced by an arbitrary decree ; 
it was rather set aside than solved by a formal 
acknowledgment; concealed it was not. The 
formal acknowledgment rested to a great extent 
upon practical motives, political reasons, sub- 
jective grounds, that were rather prescribed to 
philosophy than derived from it. These were 
props that must necessarily fall before long, and 
with them falls the Baconian view of faith. The 
bond by which reason and religion are held toge- 
ther is broken ; they fall apart, and their intrinsic 
opposition is shown in all the stubbornness of a lo- 
gical contradiction. It is this contradiction alone 
that is carried further, and becomes more sharply 
defined, as the Baconian philosophy is dissemi- 
nated. Philosophy is brought to this strait, that 
it must doubt either itself or faith ; and thus arises 
the inevitable dilemma, that either human reason 
or positive religion loses its credibility. Reason 
becomes either sceptical with respect to itself, or 
incredulous with respect to religion ; and of the 
two powers, one alone still remains firm. The 
firmness of revealed religion shakes the foundation 
of philosophy — the belief in the security of human 
reason, or the security of the latter shakes the 
authority of positive religion. Scepticism, which 
for a moment rests upon implicit faith, forms the 
transition to unbelief; and this point of transition 


in the progress of the Baconian philosophy is 
reached by Pierre Bayle, who stands as the 
intermediate link between Bacon and the so- 
called "enlightenment" of the French, on the 
border line of the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 

Bayle, like Bacon, makes repugnance to reason 
a ground for the affirmation of faith ; like Bacon, 
he considers the contradiction between religion 
and reason to be irreconcilable; because, like 
Bacon, he finds the source of religion in the 
absolute Divine will, the source of human reason 
in natural laws. The absolute will of a Being 
subject to no conditions, and the knowing facul- 
ties of man, subject to natural conditions, bear 
no rational relation to each other, and, least of 
all, can the decrees of the Divine be compre- 
hended by the human mind. They require blind 
faith and blind obedience. Any attempt at ra- 
tional criticism of the positive articles of faith 
can only make evident the contradictions between 
the two. And it is just in this that the original 
and remarkable achievement of Bayle consists, 
that he made the contradictions evident, and em- 
ployed all his acuteness in carrying them out, and 
exposing them to the eyes of every one. That re- 
pugnance of faith to reason, which Bacon had 
merely indicated, Bayle diligently expounded. 


showing that reason is both practically and theo- 
retically excluded by religion. Thus Bayle be- 
came, what Bacon was not, a critic of faith. 
Practical religion ia holiness, theoretical religion 
consists of the revealed truths of faith. Bayle 
showed, on the one hand, that holiness would not 
stand the test of natural morality ; and, on the 
other, that the revealed truths of faith were op- 
posed to human reason. His critique of reason 
proceeded according to the Baconian method ; it 
proved the contradiction between holiness and 
morality, religion and reason, by pointing it out 
in definite instances ; that is to say, by the way 
of induction. By "negative instances " he refuted 
the notion of that harmony that was supposed to 
exist between religion and philosophy, and esta- 
blished the opposition that had been acknow- 
ledged by Bacon, That the holy character was 
not, at the same time, moral, according to the 
rational notion of natural ethics, he showed by 
the life of King David.* That the positive doc- 
trines of faith were not, at the same time, the 
doctrines of reason, and, indeed, never could be- 
come so, he showed by the dogmas of the re- 
demption of man through Divine grace, and of 
the fall of man, in consequence of a Divine de- 

* Compare article " David" in the " Dictionnaire Historiqae 
et Critique." 


cree. The fall of man was with Bayle a " nega^ 
tive instance" against all speculation in rational 
theology. However the latter might endeavour 
to deduce sin from a Divine decree, every dogma 
could be opposed by a rational proposition. The 
fact of the Fall, with the host of moral evils that 
are its result, appears to Bayle absolutely inex- 
plicable. Either man is not free — and in that 
case his acts cannot be counted sinful — or he is 
free — in which case his freedom is derived from 
the Deity. In this latter case, the Deity either 
willed sin — which is inconsistent with His holiness 
— or He did not will it, but passively permitted 
it. But to what does this amount ? He did not 
prevent the actual occurrence of sin. Therefore, 
He either would not — which would be inconsis- 
tent with His goodness — or, in spite of His will 
to the contrary, He could not, which would be in- 
consistent with His omnipotence. On every side 
reason is hedged in by a labyrinth of contra- 
dictions as soon as it endeavours to explain the 
Fall of Man, and the consequent introduction of 
moral evil into the world. Without sin there is 
no redemption, and without redemption there is 
no Christianity. The revealed truths of the latter 
are therefore mysteries, impenetrable to human 
reason. By the philosophical propositions — nine- 
teen in number — which Bayle opposes to these 


theological propositions, he would prove that they 
are utterly irreconcilable — that it is impossible 
to demonstrate a speculative theology. The re- 
sult of this criticism of faith is the contradiction 
between revelation and reason. Nevertheless, his 
intent is to oppose, not the authority of reve- 
lation, but of reason, which is to bow humbly 
before religion, believe implicitly, and, from all 
the contradictions which it has discovered by its 
acuteness, merely deduce its own nullity — its 
inability to explain religion, and prove it on ra- 
tional grounds. Not with religion, but with philo- 
sophical scepticism, does Bayle conclude his inves- 
tigations. Scepticism, as the act of doubt with 
which reason retires and humbly professes its own 
weakness, is, to him, true Christian philosophy.* 
Practically, Bacon was honest in his intentions 
with regard to his principles of faith ; he wished 
to pass for a good Calvinist ; and that he might 
live as such, he remained, contrary to his own 
inclinations, in a state of voluntary exile. A phi- 
losophy that ends in scepticism was congenial to 
his own peculiar mind ; which, with its encyclo- 
paedic interest for historical variety, and its espe- 
cially critical turn, could not tolerate the restraints 
of system. But this very talent for criticism 
which, in the case of Bayle, was combined with 

* Compare the artiele "Pyrrhus," in Bayle's Dictionary. 


boundless erudition, did not allow him to make 
the interests of religious faith a real necessity of 
the heart. He respected his creed ; but faith 
did not belong to his mental constitution, and 
was still less compatible with his state of culture. 
After he had satisfied his critical propensities, 
given utterance to his doubts, discovered and 
formulised all the contradictions that can be 
urged by philosophy against the dogmas of the 
church, it was easy for him to talk of the 
subjection of reason to faith. His reason had 
spoken its last word, and that had expressed the 
contradiction between faith and reason ; in other 
words, the irrationality of faith. More than this 
Bayle himself did not know. He could only dis- 
cover and formulise contradiction ; to solve it 
was beyond his power. Contradiction was to 
him a serious matter ; his mind oscillated with 
restless activity betw^een religion and philo- 
sophy, or among the speculative systems of the 
latter. Indeed, he himself was the living contra- 
diction between faith and reason ; the spirit of 
contradiction incarnate, which, without becoming 
untrue to itself, could at one blow convert all 
the objections to faith into so many oppositions to 
reason; — nay, consistently with itself, could 
not do otherwise. Thus alone can Bayle be 
rightly understood; and thus understood, he cannot 

A A 


be called either a thorough believer or a thorough 
unbeliever. He was utterly sceptical; he re- 
mained a sceptic even in religion, even against his 
y^illj — he could not help it. With him only one 
point was firmly established, and that was the 
impossibility of solving the doubts which reason 
had introduced into matters of faith. " Blind 
faith" was the name that he gave to this impos- 
sibility. But a faith that is the result of im- 
potence, of whatever kind it be, will have this in 
common with its origin — it will be weak. The 
infirmity of reason will not give strength to 
the faith that is based upon it. A want of be- 
lief in reason will not give security to our faith 
in revelation. There is, indeed, a faith that is 
strong enough to do without reason or science, 
and never to inquire after their doubts and ob- 
jections. This all-sufficient, primitive, childlike 
faith is confident in itself, whether it is met by 
reason, with affirmation, or negation; indifferent 
whether reason proves it with a " because," or 
concedes it with an " although." With reference 
to this faith, which presupposes a childlike frame 
of mind, the Gospel has pronounced a blessing on 
" the poor in spirit." Of this blessed class Bayle 
was not one ; his mind was so rich, so various, so 
diverse in its tendencies, that it could not possibly 
become simple enough to enter the paradise of 


faith. Faith may be strong and lively even when 
reason is weak, but it cannot become strong 
through the weakness of reason. Doubt is in- 
herent in the faith of Bayle, which is the mere 
■punctum finale of the doubting reason — the mute 
boundary of thought. The faithful will do well 
cautiously to avoid such an ally as Bayle. The faith 
which sceptics gather from philosophy and oiFer 
to religion is a gift of the Danai, which religion 
had better refuse. An admission of Bayle's faith 
into Christianity would be an introduction of the 
wooden horse into Troy, and the evils wrought by 
this faith in the night would soon be lamentably 
apparent, — there would be mere destructive 
doubt. Bayle, when, with his criticism, he has 
dissected and analysed faith, can no more recall it 
to life, than an anatomist can convert the organ- 
ised " subject" he has dismembered into a living 
body ; unless, indeed, he calls Medea to assist hini 
with one of her spells. In a word, Bayle's so- 
called faith is nothing but a modified expression of 
doubt, and the impossibility upon which it is 
grounded is an incapacity in Bayle himself, which, 
with the best intentions, he cannot convert into 
a capacity — even a capacity for faith. Bayle, 
like Bacon, requires the subordination of reason 
to faith, and on the same grounds; but the 
consciousness with which reason expresses her 

A A 2 


subordination is very different in these two 
thinkers. Both are aware of the contradiction 
between religion and philosophy ; but Bacon glides 
over it, while Bayle dwells upon it, and with 
geometrical precision measures the chasm between 
faith and reason. He has far more to say on the 
subject of this contradiction than Bacon ; and, in 
the same proportion, the consciousness with which 
he professes his subjection to faith is far less 
naive, and seems verging on irony. Bacon did 
not wish to contradict religion ; Bayle contradicts 
it actually ; the former withholds what he could 
have alleged, the latter retracts what he has 
alleged already, partly and voluntarily withdraw- 
ing his opposition, when it is already a fait 
accompli, the validity of M'hich he could annul, 
but which he could not undo. The doubts that he 
had expressed he could not forget, the sharp cha- 
racters on the tablet of his mind he could not acrain 
efface, and with the most violent efforts he could 
not become strong in faith, after he had brought 
all his acuteness into play against it. That Bayle, 
at the end, insisted on being that which, through 
his own exertions, he could not possibly be — this 
internal contradiction gives an Ironical turn to his 
confession of faith. However, it is not faith, but 
himself, that Bayle ironises, when he lays down 
the weapons of philosophy. The fact that his con - 


fession of faith was honestly meant, by no means 
destroys this self-irony, but rather strengthens it 
by refinement. Hence Feuerbach rightly remarks : 
" Scepticism was with Bayle an historical neces- 
sity ; it was the concession that he made to faith ; 
he was compelled to treat the very virtues of 
reason as its defects. The consciousness of the 
strength of reason expressed itself with ironical 
humility in the name of its weakness." 

II. The Akglo-Gallic "Enlightenment." 

In truth, however, faith cannot be denied with 
more decided animosity, than when it is affirmed 
in such a manner, and on such grounds ; namely, 
those of its contradiction to reason. What is left 
for science, if deprived of every possibility of ob- 
taining faith by rational grounds, of finding from 
its own premisses a path that leads to religion ? 
Now that Bacon and Bayle have established an op- 
position between faith and reason, nothing is left for 
the latter but an unconditional acknowledgment or 
an unconditional rejection of faith, — nothing but an 
utter renunciation either of himself or of religion. 
One thing is impossible ; namely, that reason can 
believe blindly. If it is not blind at all, it cannot 
become so in particular cases. And, indeed, neither 
Bacon nor Bayle, who both took so much pains 

A A 3 


to open the eyes of reason, could seriously intend 
to render it blind. Therefore, by their demand 
for blind faith, they could only mean that reason, 
althouo-h not blind, is to assume blindness with re- 
sjiect to religion ; in other words, that it is to play 
at blindness. Thus, as it progresses, the Baconian 
philosophy leads not to a real, but to an apparent 
faith, to a mere external acknowledgment, behind 
which a consciousness of superiority is indulged 
in with greater security, or a cold indifference is 
concealed. Thus this merely apparent faith is 
either irony or indifference, if it is not altogetlier 
hypocrisy. If reason will not endure such a 
hollow and unworthy form, it can, on the Baconian 
basis, merely take the position of utter rejection 
with respect to positive religion. Following the 
same criterion by which the superiority of reve- 
lation has been shown, it now denies the system 
of positive faith ; and of the very grounds on which 
faith has been apparently affirmed, it even now 
makes a ground of serious and thorough negation. 
Under the auspices of Bacon and Bayle, " en- 
lightenment," if it could not be inimical, indif- 
ferent, or hypocritical, becomes absolutely and 
openly unbelieving, losing not merely religious 
belief, but belief in religion*, which it regards 

* " Nioht bios den Glauben in der Religion, sondern auch den 
Glauben an die Religion." 


as no more than superstition. Convinced that 
it must itself become hypocritical to profess a 
belief in divine revelation, this " enlightenment " 
is convinced that all who have ever believed in 
such revelations are, or have been, hypocrites 
themselves. As it carries about faith — if it does 
not openly reject it — as a mere show, it thinks 
it can have been no more than an empty show 
from the beginning. Incapable of truly acknow- 
ledging positive religion, it is equally incapable of 
giving a true explanation of it. Since the merely 
apparent faith is destitute of true grounds, it is 
explained from grounds that are, in fact, the worst, 
from mere selfish motives. As the so-called "en- 
lightened " can only adopt faith for external ends, 
they fancy that it has never been professed for any 
but worldly purposes. Thus, in the mind of the 
Baconian " enlightenment," positive or historical 
religion is transformed into a mere creature of 
human delusion, to be explained by selfish mo- 
tives ; and the whole history of religion becomes a 
pragmatic narrative of superstition, hypocrisy, and 
priestcraft ; in a word, a record of the maladies 
of the human mind. These are the features that 
characterise the " enlightenment " of the last 
century in England, and, more especially, in 
France, in its relation to religion. It raised its 
voice against positive religion in all those keys, 

A A 4 


which, though they had not been prescribed by 
Bacon and Bayle, alone remained possible. As 
it could not adopt a blind faith, and saw in 
reason no foundation for religion, it therefore 
made religion a mere toy, treating it sometimes 
with contemptuous irony, sometimes with super- 
cilious indifference, and, on occasions, with hypo- 
critical reverence. When it proceeded honestly 
and critically (after its own fashion), it treated 
positive religion with all possible contempt, so 
explaining it, as utterly to reduce it to supersti- 
tion, hypocrisy, and hierarchical imposture ; thus 
turning all which had been accepted and believed, 
as a divine revelation, into a sport of the human 
will. Its explanations of historical religion were 
as negative as they were superficial and shallow ; 
indeed, they could not be otherwise on the given 
premisses. These were couched in the formula 
already determined by Bacon and Bayle for the 
relation between faith and reason ; namely, the 
proposition that the credibility of the divine reve- 
lation was strengthened by its incompatibility 
with reason. This formula had two sides. Its 
obverse or positive side was revealed in Bacon 
and Bayle; its reverse or negative side, in Bo- 
lingbroke and Voltaire. Whereas Bacon had 
declared that the more a divine mystery was 
opposed to reason, the more must it be believed 


for the honour of the Deity; the other party 
said, " The rather must it be rejected for the 
honour of human reason." In the light of these 
modern thinkers, the casual expression by which 
Bacon compared the articles of faith with the 
rules of a game, became more portentous and 
significant than he had intended. Bolingbroke 
and Voltaire, with their whole train of adherents, 
really thought of religion as a game, the rules of 
which had been devised for selfish ends by the 
human will, and passed off as divine revelations. 
Thus they explained religion according to their 
own notion of it, and such an explanation, for- 
sooth, was then called the "enlightenment" of 
the world on the subject of religion. 

Such is the relation between positive religion 
and the Baconian "enlightenment." It is only the 
exponent of this relation that we exhibit. The 
relation of a philosophy to religion furnishes a 
standard by which the scientific dimensions of 
the philosophic mind may best be ascertained ; 
namely, on what degree of elevation it stands, 
how far its vision extends, how deeply it pene- 
trates the nature of things, and, above all, the 
nature of man. Let it be conceded that religion 
is the principal representative * of historical life 

* " Triiger," literally the " bearer" or " supporter." — J. 0. 


on a grand scale, and philosophy the chief repre- 
sentation of scientific culture as a whole, and we 
may lay it down as a canon that the relation of 
philosophy to religion is the feame as its relation to 
history. If it is unable to explain religion, it is 
doubtless without all capacity for the interpreta- 
tion of history, will never be able to appreciate 
the mental temperaments and motives of others, 
and will always judge a former age by the analogy 
of its own, — a proceeding as fallacious as that of 
contemplating the things of nature " ex analogia 
hominis " (as Bacon says) and not " ex analogia 
mundi." Philosophy is incapable of explaining 
religion, when it either denies it as superstitious, 
or deduces it from motives which are otherwise 
than religious. Such is the judgment of the 
Anglo-Gallic " enlightenment " as represented by 
its most audacious spirits. Its mode of thought 
was intrinsically unhistorical ; from its very first 
beginning it proposed to separate religion from 
philosophy, revelation from nature, faith from 
reason, and set them utterly at variance with each 
other. In the separation effected by Bacon and 
Bayle there was already a complete though an 
internal rupture, which of necessity soon had an 
external expression. According to the Baconian 
view, religion, which is the central point of human 
life, lay beyond the boundaries of reason ; and 


therefore reason was beyond the boundaries of 
history, being just as unhistorical in its ideas 
as it esteemed religion irrational in its revela- 
tions. Religion appeared to reason merely theo- 
logical, while reason itself was only naturalistic. 
History altogether, no less than religion, was to 
this philosophy, beyond the extreme boundary of 
its understanding.* The boundary, which Bacon 
and Bayle have set up between religion and phi- 
losophy, constitutes, in fact, the boundary that 
separates their philosophy and their reason from 
history. And it is clear why the Baconian 
understanding must have this limit. Its aim is 
a practical knowledge of the world, a utilitarian 
science; its scientific method is experimental 
experience. Tested by this aim, religion must 
appear an indifferent object; compared with this 
method, it must appear irrational. Even with 
its founder realistic philosophy was alien to re- 
ligion ; with his successors its position became 
hostile, the last (scientific) ground of the hostility 
being, on the side of philosophy, no other than 
the incapability of thinking historically. 

* Dr. Fischer also says it was the "Ding an sich ;" but the 
passage Is complete without this simile, borrowed from the 
Kantian philosophy. — J. 0. 


III. The German " Enlightenment." 

Taking other points of view, the Grerman " en- 
lightenment" aimed at different results ; in its 
very origin it contemplated a union between re- 
velation and nature, between faith and reason. 
In this respect Leibnitz stands in diametrical 
opposition to Bacon and Bayle ; and for the pur- 
pose of maintaining and defending this opposition, 
he wrote his " Theodicee." This book was not, 
indeed, the most profound and adequate repre- 
sentative of the Leibnitzian philosophy, which, 
even to the present time, is properly known by 
extremely few persons ; but it was not without 
reason that it became the most popular of his 
works, and was read by all the educated com- 
munity of Europe. It was directed immediately 
against Bayle, as a " confession " of the German 
mind, in opposition to the Anglo-Gallic. That 
" negative instance," which Bayle had advanced 
against the philosophy of religion generally, 
against all rational faith — namely, the FaU of 
Man and the introduction of sin into the world — 
the Leibnitzian " Theodicee " was intended to 
explain. It was, at that time, the only explana- 
tion with which philosophy extended the hand of 
friendship to religion ; and to the very depth of 


his thought Leibnitz was thoroughly in earnest 
with respect to this reconciliation. He had the 
idea of a rational religion that, far from opposing 
positive faith, should adopt and, to a certain ex- 
tent, regulate it. But had not Bacon likewise 
this thought of a " natural religion or theology?" 
Yes, nominally, but not really. What Bacon 
called natural religion was the notion of a Deity, 
obscured by the medium of mundane objects ; an 
acknowledgment of the existence of God derived 
from the observation of the orderly arrangement 
of nature; a doubtful conclusion founded upon 
doubtful premisses. And, even setting the doubt- 
fulness aside, this so-called natural religion, this 
idea of God, is a mere reflection of the human 
understanding, not a divine revelation. Now it 
was as a divine revelation that Leibnitz under- 
stood his natural religion. By him the idea of 
God was regarded as an eternal original datum 
in the human soul, as an idea Innate in the mind, 
and derived immediately from God Himself. AVhat 
Leibnitz called natural religion was the natural 
revelation of God in the human mind, which could 
not possibly be in contradiction with the historical 
revelation ; as in that case, God would have con- 
tradicted Himself. Hence, to a certain extent, 
Leibnitz made nature a criterion of revealed re- 
ligion. He was the positive, as Bayle was the 


negative critic of faith, "Whatever in positive re- 
ligion was contradictory to human reason was not to 
be believed ; whatever transcended it was to be ac- 
knowledged. He drew a distinction between the 
super-rational and the anti-rational — a distinction 
well grounded in the spirit of his philosophy, but 
which could not be made by Bacon and Bayle, 
who identified the super-rational with the anti- 
rational, and made the latter their positive criterion 
of faith. Why ? Because they deduced all positive 
or revealed religion from the divine will (JVill- 
huhr), because they recognised no sort of neces- 
sity in the Deity. That which is affected by 
the mere motiveless will, whatever that will may 
be, does not admit of any justification by reason, is 
under no law, and is therefore anti-rational. With 
Leibnitz, on the contrary, the divine revelations 
were regulated by a law, and therefore rational, 
even if this reason was not to be comprehended- 
by that of man. Why ? Because Leibnitz ex- 
plained by the divine Wisdom what the others 
deduced from the mere will ; because, according 
to his idea of God, thei'e could be no place for a 
mere motiveless will in the most rational of all 

We adhere to our assertion that the relation of 
philosophy to religion is the same with its relation 
to history. If philosophy excludes religion, it is 


incapable oP thinking historically ; and in this pre- 
dicament is the Anglo-Gallic "enlightenment." 
If, on the other band, philosophy comprehends 
and penetrates religion, it has, at least, a funda- 
mental capacity for thinking historically ; and this 
is the case with the German "enlightenment." 
In its foundation it unites religion and reason by 
the idea of rational religion, which is itself re- 
garded as a revelation, and seeks a harmony with 
positive or historical religion, as its ultimate goal. 
Before this goal was clearly apprehended, an op- 
position between reason and revelation, between 
natural and historical religion, was to be found 
even within the precincts of the German " en- 
lightenment." Here, also, was an age which 
remained Involved in this opposition, and was, 
therefore, utterly unable to explain history ; 
although the explanations it advanced were much 
more serious and profound than those given in 
England and France. To prove this, we need 
only compare a Reimarus with a Bolingbroke or a 
Voltaire ! But with us, this opposition, at the 
foundation of which lay a reconciliation, sought to 
be reconciled anew, and conduced in itself to a 
more thorough solution of the problem, which 
was innate in the German " enlightenment,' and 
could only be solved in one way. So long as 
natural religion was regarded as alone true and 


possible (as in the ordinary " enlightenment" of 
the school of Wolf), historical religion could only 
be regarded as an outward show, to be explained, 
on closer investigation, by a reference to worldly 
motives; — so long ' was it impossible to get 
beyond a stubborn and exclusive opposition. To 
terminate this it was necessary to discover the 
affinity and connection between natural and histo- 
rical religion, to comprehend the latter in its 
religious nature. Now the religious nature of an 
historical faith is never to be discovered by a 
merely logical understanding, but requires an 
historical understanding that is able to apprehend 
its peculiarities, to appreciate notions and emo- 
tions different from its own, and to explain them 
from their historical antecedents. An explana- 
tion of historical facts from historical antecedents, 
is a recognition of a necessity in history, and is 
what we call "historical thinking;" which is, 
in fact, natural thinking with respect to history. 
The historical, as distinguished from the abstract 
logical understanding, comprehends that human 
" enlightenment" does not date from the pre- 
sent moment, but consists of a gradually pro- 
gressive process of culture, and is of a universally 
historical nature ; so that the actual state of " en- 
lightenment" only represents a state of elevation 
corresponding to its period. Thus all religiop, 


Indeed human culture generally, is to be com- 
prehended and vindicated not from the present 
point of view, but from the peculiar conditions 
of its own age. Compared with the state of 
thought in its own age, historical religion appears 
not as the opposite of that thought, but as 
its element and basis. From its very founda- 
tion, German " enlightenment" was compelled to 
think historically ; the foundation was already 
established in Leibnitz, it was developed in 
Winckelmann, Lessing, and Herder, while no 
advance could be made during the age that was 
governed by Christian Wolf and his school. 
Lessing, above all, liberated the historical under- 
standing, and in his "Education of the Human 
Race" (^Erziehung des Mensckengeschlechts) com- 
prehended and vindicated positive religion in a 
corresponding spirit. The relation of Leibnitz 
to his contemporary Bayle is the same as that 
of Lessing to his contemporary Voltaire. In- 
deed, Leibnitz is distinguished from Locke and 
Bayle, and Lessing from Voltaire, just as the 
German "enlightenment" is distinguished from 
the Anglo- Gallic. The two bases are as different 
from each other as the two nations. The philo- 
sophy founded by Bacon liberated the natural 
understanding, investigating, developing, and es- 
tablishing it in a sphere from which the histo- 

B B 


lical understanding was excluded. The philoso- 
phy founded by Leibnitz produced from its own 
resources the historical understanding, which did 
not exclude the natural understanding ; but subor- 
dinated it to itself. In opposition to Bacon and 
Descartes, it considered nature, according to our 
human analogy, as a progressive series that rose 
up to man as its unconscious goal. Thus nature, 
as it were, "praeforms" history, while it organises 
man. Thus, from its very origin, the philosophy 
of nature is destined to become a philosophy of 
history, and from this point of view the historical 
philosophy of a Herder, and the subsequent natu- 
ral philosophy of a Schelling, are to be judged. 
Herder, in his "Ideas towards the History of 
Man," speculates on the hypotheses of natural 
history ; Schelling, in his " Ideas towards the 
Philosophy of Nature," speculates on the results 
of historical philosophy. And perhaps Schelling 
has not advanced natural science so much as phi- 
losophical history ; perhaps he has not so much 
explained nature itself, as the religion of nature. 

While the Anglo-Gallic "enlightenment" was 
only naturalistic from its very foundation, and 
therefore remained uncongenial to the historical 
process of human culture, the German "enlighten- 
ment" was, in its very purpose, humanistic. It 
attained its end in Kant. But the Kantian epoch 

KANT. 371 

is also of import for the Anglo-Gallic philosophy, 
which, as it progressed, had been impelled to a 
point where it had found itself compelled to call 
in question the natural understanding and its 
knowledge. Here it occupied the mind of Kant, 
and gave this mind the last and most effectual 
impulse towards a thoroughly new inquiry re- 
specting the nature of human knowledge. It 
was then itself carried out further by Kant, and 
resulted in the German philosophy. 

B B 2 




If we compare the Baconian philosophy with his- 
tory, its limit, as well as its contradiction, becomes 
clear beyond the possibility of mistake. The in- 
terpretation of history is manifestly a necessary 
problem of a real exact science, inasmuch as his- 
tory itself belongs to reality. Now the Baconian 
philosophy is incapable of interpreting history. 
This incapacity is its limit. Nay, it is even 
aware of this limit, and by clearly-expressed judg- 
ments, that show self-knowledge, has excluded 
from its precincts the elementary ideas requisite 
for the Interpretation of history. These elemen- 
tary ideas are the human mind and religion. The 
mind is the subject and supporter of all history ; 
religion is the basis of all human culture. If we 
cannot explain the mind, how can we explain the 
development of the mind, which is, in fact, history 
itself? Bacon has defined the essence of the 
human mind as the unknown and unperceivable 
magnitude, that does not enter his philosophical 


calculations. How can he, to whom religion is 
a sealed mystery, explain its radiations in art, 
science, morals, and politics? How can the 
effects be known without the cause ? Bacon him- 
self has defined religion as an irrational object, 
and represented it to the human reason as- an 
impenetrable "Beyond" (Jenseits). But reli- 
gion is no such " Beyond," neither is the human 
mind. Both are powers of real life — the former 
an essential factor, the latter the sole subject of 
all history. 

The realistic phUosophy, which not only origi-- 
nates in the Baconian, but finds in it its widest 
sphere of vision, should not fall short of the spirit 
of reality. The unreal it may indeed exclude; 
but that which is real, which is given, which is 
an undeniable fact, it is bound to explain. It 
therefore contradicts itself, when it excludes his- 
torical reality, and regards the motive powers of 
that reality as Insoluble mysteries. It falls short 
of the real world. History is the impenetrable 
residue, which will not be assimilated with the 
Baconian philosophy. The limit of the latter, 
which is not set by us, but imposed by itself, 
constitutes a self-contradiction. 

B B 3 


I. Bacon's Unhistoeical Mode of Thought. 

This contradiction may be pursued into its 
details. Bacon, in the well-justified spirit of 
realistic philosophy, has required an interpreta- 
tion of history, and explained the nature of his 
requisition in precepts, than which nothing could 
be more suited to the purpose. He knew very 
well what he meant by the interpretation of 
history. But he has not complied with his own 
requisitions. When he himself enters the field 
of history, he does not so much explain as 
describe ; and even when he does make an attempt 
to explain historical subjects, his attempts are in 
manifest contradiction not only with the historical 
method, but also with his own method of inter- 
pretation, which was based on the correct prin- 
ciple that things should be judged, not according 
to human analogies, but according to their own 
objective relations; in other words, that we 
should not accommodate the things to ourselves, 
but ourselves to the nature of the things. This 
principle of interpretation, which is alone correct 
and natural, requires, when applied to history, 
that the things of history should be measured and 
judged by their own standard ; not as they are 


related to us, but as they are related to them- 
selves, their age and its conditions. And how 
did Bacon carry out this principle, which he had 
so urgently recommended, in his own historical 
explanations and judgments ? He acted in direct 
opposition to it. He judged all preceding philo- 
sophers, the Platos and the Aristotles, not in 
reference to their age, but simply by comparing 
them with his own views. Whatever corre- 
sponded with these was affirmed ; whatever was 
opposed to them, was denied and rejected as 
absurd. He made his own philosophy the stan- 
dard of all others, judging and interpreting the 
historical manifestations of science merely by thia 
analogy, than which nothing could be more sub- 
jective. In the same spirit he explained the 
" Wisdom of the Ancients." He assumed that 
the old myths were parables, and then assumed 
that these parables symbolised certain natural 
and moral truths in order to introduce his own 
moral and physical views. Thus the fable of Eros 
was made to harmonise with the theory of DemO' 
critus, and this theory with his own. But surely 
these assumptions were no more than a series of 
"anticipations of the intellect" vying with each 
other in their arbitrary character. Such " antici- 
pations" were made by Bacon himself, who placed 
at the very summit of his method the declaration 

B B 4 


that there ought to be no " anticipatib mentis," 
but only an " interpretatio naturas," — a tho- 
roughly unprejudiced and natural interpretation 
of things ! Ought any exception to be made to 
the application of the general principle ? If none, 
why did Bacon himself make an exception in 
the case of the myths? He explains these by 
preconceived notions, by "anticipations" of the 
most arbitrary kind. The Baconian interpreta- 
tion converts these poetic fictions into common- 
places, and understands nothing of their living 
peculiarity, nothing of their historical origin, 
nothing of their poetical and national character. 
By this allegorical interpretation poetry becomes 
prose, and Greek imagination is changed into 
un-Greek thought. Moreover, every allegorical 
interpretation is necessarily teleologlcal, for it sees 
and explains nothing in its object, but its didac- 
tic purpose — a tendency which it either elicits 
or supposes. Every fable has a moral — is a 
production with a purpose, and as such must 
be interpreted. But from the methodical, or se- 
verely scientific method of interpretation. Bacon 
has rejected all teleology. Why, then, has he a 
merely teleological interpretation for the fictions 
of the ancients ; or, rather, why does he turn the 
myths into fables, by a very unnatural and vio- 
lent interpretation, giving them a purpose which 


manifestly does not belong to them ? Why, ge- 
nerally, does he regard allegory as the highest 
species of poetry? Allegory is a prosaic work, 
composed for a purpose; a poetical work is a 
product of genius. The genial creation of poetry 
is nearly akin to natural generation. Why, then, 
did Bacon expressly insist that nature should not 
be explained by final causes, when, according to 
the same Bacon, the highest kind of poetry re- 
sulted from a reflection on ends and purposes? 
We see how unnatural, according to his own 
view of nature, was Bacon's apprehension of the 
essence of poetry, how imperfectly he perceived 
its natural source. The creative imagination he 
did not comprehend; he treated allegory as the 
highest poetry, and lyrical poetry as none at all.* 
The contradiction which we have indicated, is 
obvious enough. Bacon's historical explanations 
and judgments are in contradiction to the method 
of interpretation which he himself introduced. 
According to this, the facts of reality are to be 
comprehended with reference to their causes ; but 
it does not comprehend the sense of poetry, of 
consciousness, of religion ; it confesses that, by 
its light, the mind and religion both appear irra- 
tional facts. It requires an explanation of things 
without subjective prejudices, without human 

* Compare chap, vi. 


analogy. But Bacon's historical interpretations 
and judgments are according to the exclusive 
standard of his own philosophy. By this he ex- 
plains poetic fictions, by this he pronounces 
judgment on the systems of the past. Will it 
be said that Bacon could have avoided these con- 
tradictions ; that he could have applied his scien- 
tific method to historical subjects with greater 
fidelity and with more success ; that, by a mere 
accidental deficiency, he fell short of his own 
principles ? Such a judgment would be as in- 
considerate as it would be incorrect. On the con- 
trary, we must rather maintain that the Baconian 
method is in itself insufificient for the interpre- 
tation of history ; that it is not equal to historical 
reality; that through its very principles it ex- 
cludes the ideas that correspond to historical 
forces ; that Bacon Is, in fact, consistent with his 
method, while he seems to act in opposition to 
its highest precepts. His method is adapted to 
nature, so far as this differs toto ccdo from mind ; 
to mindless, mechanical, blindly working nature 
— to nature, that can be forced by experiment to 
reveal her laws, that will allow her secrets to be 
wrung from her by levers and screws. This me- 
thod is only intended to be thinking experience ; 
it unites the understanding and the sensuous per- 
ceptions, and, through its very principle, excludes 


imagination from the contemplation of things. 
But can that which is made by the imagination 
be explained without the imagination? Can a 
mode of interpretation which, on principle, re- 
nounces all imagination, be fitted for poetry and 
art? It may serve to explain machines, but not 
poetic creations. Can religion be explained with- 
out art, or history without religion ? Is history, 
the living mind of man, to be approached by ex- 
periments ? By what experiment can we explain 
the plastic power revealed in the poems of Homer 
and the statues of Phidias ? 

In the same degree that the Baconian method 
is adapted to nature, it is repugnant to history. 
Where nature has her limit that separates her 
from mind, there is the limit of the Baconian 
method — I do not say of the Baconian mind. 
Bacon's judgments, through the very circumstance 
that they are repugnant to history, are consistent 
with his method, which requires, once for all, 
that no truths shall be allowed to stand but such 
as are confirmed by experience in nature and ia 
human life. It rejects, without scruple, every 
philosophy that misapprehends these empirical 
truths ; and professes to have made the discovery 
that, in the earliest ages, a philosophy akin to 
poetry stood nearest to these empirical truths — 
nearer than any system that followed. In its 


own interest, it assumes the fact that, in the 
oldest philosophy and the oldest poetry, there 
was no other foundation than these empirical 
truths which it had itself approved. These must 
be found in the myths which must be interpreted 
from this point of view. Thus it is the Baconian 
method itself which oiFers an impediment to his- 
torical interpretation. Bacon's methodical inter- 
pretation of nature is, from its foundation, no 
more able to afford an interpretation of history 
than nature, as he understands her, to produce the 
human mind from her own resources. We draw 
a distinction here between the interpretation and 
the investigation of history. The former explains 
and comprehends the facts, which the latter seeks, 
establishes, and describes ; they are as distinct 
from each other as description from explanation, 
history from science, according to the Baconian 
view. It is only with respect to the science of 
history that I maintain that the Baconian method 
is not the proper key. In the investigation of 
history, as of nature, it serves as an apt guide, as 
the only possible instrument for the discovery 
and establishment of facts. The first considera- 
tion everywhere is, the qucestio facti. Facts, 
whether they belong to history or nature, can 
only be found by the Baconian method. To find 
these, the investigator, whether of history or 


of nature, requires his own experience and ob- 
servation; he must draw his facts from sources 
which he himself has tested ; and to sift them he 
must exercise a comparative criticism of sources, 
which is impossible without a careful weighing 
of positive and negative instances — a process that 
may be abbreviated and conducted by the same 
means that Bacon, in his " Novum Organum," 
has pointed out to the investigator of nature. 
The discovery of facts is, in all cases, the result 
of a correct method of inquiry ; and this, for every 
case, is exactly what Bacon has formulised. The 
facts of history, like those of nature, are only to 
be discovered by a just experience, the logic of 
which has been laid down by Bacon for every 
case. But, on the other hand, there is an essen- 
tial difference between the interpretation of na- 
ture and the interpretation of history ; they are 
as distinct as their objects, nature and mind ; and 
Bacon himself, whose understanding was greater 
than his method, has admitted that the latter is 
incapable of explaining the mind. Nature pre- 
sents him only with facts ; but history opposes 
his ideas with other ideas {Begriffe), which he 
must deny, in order to establish his own. The 
ideas that have become historical appear to him 
as "idola theatri;" and, with respect to these, 
his method and his philosophy become an " anti- 


cipatio mentis." The futility of all earlier sys- 
tems becomes, with Bacon, an historical prejudice; 
and with this prejudice his historical explanations 
and judgments are connected. He thinks only of 
the present and the future, which he will enrich 
and liberate from the past; therefore he denies 
the past ; but the past is history. 

II. Bacon and Macaulat. 

Easily comprehensible and great as this mode of 
thought appears in Bacon, whose vocation it was 
to effect a reformation in science, just as strange 
and just as much the reverse of great must it 
appear to us when, in our own times, an eminent 
investigator of history pays unconditional homage 
to the Baconian mode of thought, and extols it 
with a fanatical partiality that was altogether 
foreign to the founder himself. We are surprised, 
at the present day, to find a mode of thought ad- 
hered to, in that exclusive spirit that was neces- 
sary, two centuries and a half ago, to constitute an 
epoch that was subject to the conditions of its 
age ; to find it adhered to by an historian who, 
above all others, should be sensible to the differ- 
ence of times, and, more especially, should main- 
tain the historical against the physical point of 
view; or, at any rate, should not overlook the 


boundary between tbem which Bacon himself has 
observed. Nevertheless, Mr. Macaulay uncon- 
ditionally takes up the cause of practical against 
theoretical philosophy, designating the former by 
Bacon's name ; and in this spirit he repeats, and 
even heightens, the Baconian criticism of anti- 
quity. To show the value of the practical philo- 
sophy above the theoretic, Mr. Macaulay exerts 
all his energies, pressing down the scale of the 
latter with every possible weight, to such a de- 
gree that the theoretical scale kicks the beam 
and loses all weight whatever. He associates 
practical interests, as he calls them, with Baconian 
philosophy, in the same uncompromising spirit 
that is evinced by De Maistre when he opposes 
the Baconian philosophy in the interest of reli- 
gion. The relation of them both to Bacon most 
happily reflects the opposition between the En- 
glish utilitarian and the French " romanticist." 
Compared with each other, the two portraits are 
of very different value, and we have no hesitation 
as to our preference. Assuredly a De Maistre 
cannot vie with a Macaulay. Compared with 
their original, both portraits wUl be found unlike, 
and exaggerated in that " belletristic " style that 
is ill-adapted for the enunciation of truth. Of 
the philosopher Bacon, De Maistre would make 
the Satan, Macaulay the God of Philosophy. 


Such exaggerations may answer our modern novel- 
readers, but they can instruct nobody. "With re- 
spect to Mr. Macaulay, we have two questions to 
propose : — First, What is the import of that 
opposition between practical and theoretic philo- 
sophy of which he is always talking ? Secondly, 
What has his practical philosophy to do with 
Bacon ? 

Mr. Macaulay decides on the part of philo- 
sophy with a ready formula that, like many of 
the kind, dazzles with words which really mean 
nothing; — words which appear the more empty 
and obscure, the more closely they are investi- 
gated. He says that philosophy should be for 
the sake of man, not man for the sake of philo- 
sophy ; in the former case it is practical, in the 
second theoretic. He is in favour of the former 
and against the latter ; the former he cannot suffi- 
ciently extbl, the latter he cannot make sufficiently 
ridiculous. According to Macaulay, the Baco- 
nian philosophy is practical, the prEe-Baconian 
and, more especially, the ancient philosophy, is 
theoretic. This opposition he carries to its ex- 
treme, and gives us an exaggerated representation, 
not in an unadorned shape, but in a figurative 
disguise, in aptly-devised images, so that practical 
philosophy always wears an imposing or alluring 
form, while theoretical philosophy is made to 


look repulsive. By tliis play of words he wins 
the multitude, who catch at images, like children. 
Of practical philosophy he makes (not so much 
his principle as) his point, and of theoretical his 
target. Thus the opposition acquires something 
of a dramatic interest, and this involuntarily en- 
lists the sympathies of the reader, who forgets 
the scientific question ; and, provided the writer is 
unsparing of the images and metaphors with which 
he contrives to amuse the fancy, nothing more is 
required by the understanding. Every one of his 
words is a lucky throw, a good shot. He who, 
with a certain degree of facility, with a certain 
mastery over dramatic efiTect, knows how to con- 
vert principles into points, ideas into metaphors, 
can now-a-days achieve incredible victories over 
the bare truth. We have seen in Germany how, 
under such forms, every absurdity can make its 
way. Indeed, with us, even unadorned absurdity 
is not safe from public veneration. By the mere 
art of words, a grain of truth may be so blown 
out that, in the eyes of the multitude, who only 
judge by appearances, it may seem to be whole 
tons in weight. Thus, for instance, sensualism 
and materialism, which have a grain of truth, may 
be so expanded, may be screwed up to such a 
height, that they seem to leave no room for any- 
thing else. Feuerbach has found a great deal of 
c c 


talent necessary, and has expended a vast number 
of startling and dazzling antitheses to give a 
brilliant aspect to materialism; but his disciples, 
without a spark of talent, can make this ounce of 
truth infinitely luxuriant in its growth. But as 
Feiierbach uses the party-cry of sensual, as op- 
posed to speculative philosophy, so is the cry of 
practical against theoretical philosophy, raised by 
Macaulay. The chief object is not that the ideas 
shall be correct, but that the words shall be 
pointed. What does Mr. Macaulay mean when 
he says that philosophy should be for man, not 
man for philosophy ; when he rejects theoretical 
philosophy because it makes itself the end, and 
man the means to that end ; when he says that, 
in his eyes, practical has to theoretical philosophy 
the relation of deeds to words — of fruit to thorns 
— of an advancing army to a treadmill, where 
with all our turning, we still remain at the same 
spot ? When I read dazzling phrases of this kind, 
I am reminded of the Socratic expression : " They 
are indeed said, but are they said right?" If we 
interpret Macaulay's words strictly, no philosophy 
in the world was ever practical ; for never was there 
one that arose merely from so-called practical 
considerations, and not from philosophical consi- 
derations likewise. Just as little has there been 
a theoretical philosophy ; for there has never been 


one which had not for its motive a human neces- 
sity — that is to say, a practical interest. 

We see to what this reckless play upon words 
ultimately tends. It defines theoretical and prac- 
tical philosophy by means of a definition that will 
not fit a single real instance. The antithesis says 
absolutely nothing. Let us dismiss the antithesis 
and confine ourselves to the sober, intelligible opi- 
nion, that the value of a theory depends wholly 
on its applicability — on its practical influence on 
human life — on the use that we can derive from 
it. Utility alone is to decide the value of theory. 
Be it so 5 but who shall decide what is useful? 
All things are useful that conduce to the satisfac- 
tion of human wants, whether they be objects in 
themselves, or means towards objects. But who 
shall decide what is a human want ? We take Ma- 
caulay's point of view, and perfectly agree with him 
that philosophy should be practical, that it should 
serve the purposes of man, that it should satisfy, 
or, at any rate, conduce to the satisfaction of his 
wants ; and that, if it does not, it is useless, and 
consequently worthless. Now, supposing that 
there are wants in human nature that imperiously 
demand satisfaction, that, when unsatisfied, render 
life a torment, is not that which satisfies these 
wants to be deemed practical ? If some of these 
are of such a kind that they can only be satisfied by 
c c 2 


knowledge — that is, by theory— is not this theory 
to be deemed useful? nay, must it not be so in the 
eyes of the most determined utilitarian ? More- 
over, it is very possible that there are more wants 
inhuman nature than the utilitarian imagines, and 
that all these wants will not be contented with the 
modicum of satisfaction that he offers. It is pos- 
sible that what the utilitarian terms theoretical 
philosophy, appears useless and sterile to him 
merely because his own notions of human nature 
are too narrow and sterile. The question really 
is, what idea do we form of man. According to 
this idea we estimate human wants; and as our 
view of these wants is narrower or broader, we 
decide on the utility of science and the value of 
philosophy. But it is a rash and unseemly pro- 
ceeding to begin by commanding man to have 
only so many wants, and then inferring that he 
requires only so much philosophy. To judge 
by Macaulay's examples, his notions of human 
nature lead to no very great results. " If we are 
forced," says Macaulay, "to make our choice 
between the first shoemaker, and the author of 
the three books 'On Anger' (Seneca), we pro- 
nounce for the shoemaker. It may be worse to 
be angry than to be wet. But shoes have kept 
millions from being wet ; and we doubt whether 
Seneca ever kept any one from being angry." 


I certainly should not select Seneca for my 
target if I meant to hit theoretical philosophy ; 
and still less should I choose those whom Mr. Ma- 
caulay prefers to Seneca, for my allies, if I wished 
to drive the theorists out of the field. With such 
auxiliaries it would be possible enough. Macau- 
lay throws things very different from the sword 
of Brennus into the scale that he would make 
the heavier! However, he ought not merely to 
doubt, but know whether the meditations of a 
philosopher (even of a Seneca) are absolutely 
without avail against human passions ; whether 
they do not confer equanimity on the human soul, 
and render it stronger in the presence of death 
than it would be without them. To oppose one 
example w^ith another, I can mention a philo- 
sopher far more profound than Seneca, and, in the 
eyes of Macaulay, likewise an unpractical thinker, 
to whom the power of theory was far greater than 
the power of nature and the ordinary wants of 
humanity. Through his meditations alone was 
Socrates cheerful when he drank the cup of 
poison ! Of all ills, is there any that exceeds the 
fear of death in the human soul ? There are, 
indeed, many who would rather get rid of death, 
than the fear of it; who would rather lengthen 
their lives, than be so armed in every case that 
they could look death calmly and cheerfully in the 
c c 3 


face. All these would have considered Socrates 
more practical, if he had taken the advice of Crito, 
and escaped from his prison at Athens, to die of 
old affe in Boeotia or elsewhere. Socrates himself 
thought it more practical to remain in prison, and, 
as the first martyr to the liberty of the mind, to 
mount up to the gods from the height of his 
theory. Thus, in every case, man's own wants 
decide upon the practical value of an action or a 
thought, and these, again, are determined by the 
nature of the human soul. The difference of 
wants corresponds to the difference in individuals 
and in periods. Mr. Macaulay makes a particular 
class of human wants — those of ordinary life — 
the standard of science ; and, on this account, he 
abjures theoretic, and narrows practical philosophy. 
This standard is as little suited to himself as to 
the nature of the human mind. If he had not 
other and higher wants than those which are 
satisfied by Ms practical philosophy, he would not 
have been a great historian, but one of those whom 
he prefers to Seneca. His practical philosophy is 
to the human mind what a tight shoe is to the 
foot ; it pinches, and a pinching shoe is a bad 
preservative against wet. 

"We do not render human life more easy by 
narrowing science. The attempt to dam up the 
stream, however well meant — nay, however ad- 


vantageous it may be for the moment — Isj after all, 
an attempt to destroy the scientific impulse itself 
in the mind of man. And, indeed, the first attempt 
can only attain a permanent success, on the sup- 
position that success has attended the second. As 
long as the desire of knowledge is an active want in 
our inmost nature, so long must we strive to satisfy 
this want, for this purely /jrac^jca/ purpose — ^strive 
after knowledge in all things, even in those the 
explanation of which does not in any way conduce 
to our external prosperity, which are of no use 
beyond the foundation of that intellectual clearness 
which is their result. So long as religion, art, and 
science actually exist as an intellectual creation 
by the side of the physical ; — and the ideal world 
will not cease tlU the material world has ceased 
also ; — so long will man feel a necessity to direct 
his attention to those objects and to produce within 
himself a copy of the ideal world, as well as a 
copy of the world of nature. In other words, he 
will feel himself practically compelled, by an in- 
ternal necessity, to attempt the theoretical culti- 
vation of his mind. This has been the aim of the 
thinkers of antiquity, the ancients, of the middle 
ages, and of our own times; though all have 
proceeded in their own manner. It is true 
that neither the theories of the ancients nor those 
c c 4 


of the schoolmen are any longer suiteJ to our 
necessities ; for our world has changed, and with 
it our mode of thought. But an unconditional 
rejection of those theories, is only a misappre- 
hension of the sense that lay at the foundation of 
them all, as a mental necessity ; that is to say, 
we say we judge of antiquity in a mind that is 
foreign to its spirit, and apply to its theories a 
theory of our own that, being wholly inapplicable 
and therefore unfruitful, may be ranked among 
the phantasms of the brain. This non-historical 
mode of thought was Bacon's defect, in which 
Macaulay participates. In Bacon's eyes, the 
theories of classical antiquity were " Idols ; " in 
ours, the Baconian theory of antiquity is an 
" Idol" in its turn. To him, the philosophies 
of a Plato and an Aristotle appear as " Idola 
theatri ; " to us, these very views appear " Idola 
specus et fori " — personal and national prejudices. 
Bacon has as much misapprehended the spirit of 
history as the ancients, in his opinion, misappre- 
hended the laws of nature. 

But by rejecting theory altogether — not 
merely the theories of the past, but the contem- 
plative mind, as an entire genus, simply because 
it has not an immediate influence on practical life, 
we close our eyes not only against history, but 
also against man and the wants of humanity — 


we overlook an impulse that belongs to the very 
elements of our nature. This mode of thought, 
so opposed to nature, is the defect of Macaulay, 
in which Bacon does not participate. Bacon 
thought too highly of the practical mind of man 
to lessen or straiten the theoretical. He wished 
to raise the former to tlie dominion of the world ; 
and therefore he wished to enlighten the latter 
into knowledge of the world. He was well aware 
that our power is proportioned to our knowledge ; 
and therefore, to use his favourite expression, he 
wished to found in the human mind a temple after 
the model of the universe. According to him, 
science ought to be a copy of the actual world, 
which he could not, indeed, complete himself, but 
which, he hoped, would be completed in the 
course of ages. In this copy, according to his 
view, nothing, however small, should be wanting ; 
for everything that is, he thought, has a right 
to be known ; and it is the interest of man to 
know everything. Science appeared to his mind 
a work of art, the perfection of which was his 
grand object. His great mind saw that the com- 
pletest science would establish the completest 
dominion, and that a gap in science would be a 
weakness in life. What does science appear to 
the eyes of Bacon ? A temple raised in the 
human mind after the model of the universe. 


What does it appear in the eyes of Macaulay? 
A convenient dwelling-house, fashioned to ac- 
commodate the wants of practical life. Macaulay 
is quite satisfied if we can carry science far enough 
to provide a place of safety for our goods and 
chattels, and, above all, shelter ourselves from the 
wet. The majesty of the edifice, and its perfec- 
tion according to the model of the world, is to 
him a useless appendage — mere superfluous and 
hurtful luxury. Bacon did not take such a mean 
view of the subject. In the highest sense of the 
word, he was earnest with science. He only re- 
jects those theoi'ies by which, in his opinion, the 
true theory was spoiled. Whatever appeared to 
him an incorrect copy of the world he flung aside 
as a ground-plan, in following which, man had 
for whole ages built nothing but castles in the 
air. Among these ground-plans he found some 
belonging to the earliest ages, which, though not 
copies, he considered symbols of the world ; and 
these he endeavoured to interpret after his own 
fashion. Macaulay is astonished, in this case, at 
the morbid degree to which a talent for analogy 
is developed in Bacon ; but he does not perceive 
the connection of this talent Avith Bacon's method; 
he does not see that Bacon looked to analogy as 
an expedient by which he might pursue his theory 
further than his method permitted, and thus ren- 


der the temple of science broader and more lofty 
than was possible by the unaided use of his in- 

Mr. Macaulay lessens Bacon by trying to aug- 
ment him and elevate him above all others. If 
he understood Bacon's mind, as the latter under- 
stood the world, he would have formed a different 
judgment either of Bacon or of theory. His error 
consists in this, that he would make an historical 
prejudice of Bacon into a law of nature ; that he 
repeats and heightens this prejudice as if it were 
now as just and as comprehensible as at the time 
when it was originally expressed. Bacon's histo- 
rical prejudices are to be explained by the parti- 
cular degree of culture which his age had attained 
— to be vindicated, above all, by bis own historical 
position. It was his mission to renovate science, 
and to open to the new spirit of the age a path 
in the region of science, after it had already 
made for itself a way in the region of the church. 
Hence he was forced to reject the theories of the 
past. The founders of the new are seldom the 
best interpreters of the old. Indeed, It is impos- 
sible that they should be so ; for the old is in their 
eyes something foreign to their purpose, and it is 
their vocation to deprive it of the sanction of 
mankind. It is not till afterwards that that 
which has been exploded becomes again an object 

396 rEANCIS BACON OF veeulam'. 

of human consideration as something yet to be 
explained, and then comes the time for a truly- 
impartial judgment This sort of justice does not 
belono- to the vocation of reformins; minds. To 
know the historical value that is to be attached to 
the ancient and scholastic philosophy, we must 
not consult Bacon and Descartes. The greatest 
reformer of philosophy that ever lived, Immanuel 
Kant, was the least able of all to explain its past. 
He only saw and only aimed at one vulnerable 
point ; this he hit, and cared little about anything 
else. It is just this hard and dictatorial character, 
that, from its own point of view, heaps together 
and rejects whole ages of science, that both in 
Bacon and in Kant aided the work of renovation 
in philosophy. Leibnitz, who, in spite of his 
vocation as a reformer, was, nevertheless, most 
zealous in his efforts to treat the ancients in every 
respect with justice, is not to be cited as an in- 
stance to the contrary. His position was utterly 
different from those of Bacon and Kant. Leib- 
nitz had not, like them, to create a new spirit, 
but to reform a new spirit that already existed, 
having emanated from Bacon and Descartes. This 
new spirit he wished to free from the one-sided- 
ness that was displayed in its exclusive and dis- 
dainful attitude towards antiquity; and thus his 
renovating philosophy involuntarily became a re- 


storation of the ancient. This reformation was, at 
the same time, a rehabilitation. 

That which in Bacon was right, and suited to the 
spirit of the times, is not so now. He might de-i 
clare the philosophy of tlie past unpractical, and 
confirm this summary judgment by making a phi-< 
losophy of the future. But it is at once wrong, and 
contrary to the spirit of the times, still to retain 
Bacon's opinion of antiquity, and under the banner 
of his philosophy, to declare war against theory in 
general. Bacon's philosophy itself (as, indeed, 
every philosophy is by its very nature) was a theory, 
and nothing else ; it was the theory of the inven- 
tive mind. Nothing great, in the shape of inven- 
tion, is attributable to Bacon ; he was far less in- 
ventive than the German metaphysician, Leibnitz. 
If by practical philosophy we mean invention. 
Bacon was a mere theorist ; his philosophy was 
nothing but a theory of " practical philosophy." 
Bacon did not wish to narrow theory, but to rein-, 
vigorate it and to open for it a wider field of 
observation than it had ever had before. I do 
not know with what eyes any one can have read 
Bacon's works to interpret their spirit in a nar^ 
rower sense. Besides that manly vigour that 
feels itself called upon to achieve great deeds, 
and fully equal to its mission, these writings 
breathe the irresistible spirit of youth and genius. 


in which a sense of something new is awakened ; 
and which, conscious of its own strength, every- 
where expresses its own convictions in plain and 
unvarnished terms. Not unfrequently does the 
cahn thotight speak in the language of imagina- 
tion ; and the end that Bacon pursues — practical 
and generally useful as it is — often appears in his 
descriptions as a youthful ideal, accompanied by 
significant images and great examples. What 
charms its in Bacon, with peculiar fascination, 
enabling us not only to think, but also to feel 
with him, is, in addition to the weight of his own 
ideas, that freshly awakened passionate thirst for 
science which carries him along and pervades all 
his projects ; and which, though he cautiously 
compels it to bridle its energies, so as not to be 
borne headlong, he never commands to become 
extinct, or to be satisfied with little. No, the 
beverage desired by Bacon is pressed from num- 
berless grapes, though only from those that are 
fully matured and prepared. The Bacon that 
we find in his own writings, knows no bounds 
to human knowledge within the compass of the 
universe, no ne plus ultra, no pillars of Her- 
cules for the mind. These are his words, not 
ours ; and had he thought diflPerently, he would 
not have written his books on the dignity and 
advancement of the sciences. These works 


afford the best proof of the wide extent of 
theory in Bacon's mind ; the best proof that he 
did not wish to limit and restrain it, but to reno- 
vate it and extend it to the boundaries of the uni- 
verse. His standard of practicability was not the 
mere utility of the bourgeois, but that generally 
human utility to which knowledge, as knowledge, 
belongs. In his dedication to the King of Eng- 
land*, he says: — "To your Majesty, — it is 
proper and agreeable to be conversant not only in 
the transitory parts of good government, but in 
those acts also that are in their nature permanent 
and perpetual. Amongst the which, if affection do 
not transport me, there is not any more worthy 
than the further advancement of the world with 
sound and fruitful knowledge. For why should 
a few received authors stand up like Hercules' 
columns, beyond which there should be no sailing 
or discovering, since we have so bright and benign 
a star as your majesty to conduct and pros- 
per us ? " 

This is not the Bacon that Mr. Macaulay 
would set up as one of the Hercules' pillars of 
science ; and here, in brief, is the distinction be- 
tween the two. What Bacon sought was new, 
and, rightly understood, is eternal. What at the 

* In the second book of " Advancement." The passage also 
occurs in " De Augmentis, II." — J. O. 


present day is desired by Macaulay and many 
others, who use the authority of Bacon, is not the 
new, but at most, the modern. The new is that 
which opposes itself to the old, and serves as a 
model for the future ; in this sense, there is very 
little that is new in the world — the new is only 
the truth of extraordinary minds in extraordinary 
times. The modern is that which flatters the 
present, and gains the largest amount of suffrages 
from the public opinion of the day. As far as I 
can see, we have nothing new in art or science, 
nothing that we can oppose to the ancient, and 
hold up as a light to posterity ; and to judge from 
appearances, all the real innovations of the present 
day occur and are sought in other fields, where, 
indeed, they are more required. That which, in 
our day, would pass for something new in art or 
science, is, in fact, nothing but an artificial, and 
therefore intrinsically unsound revivification of the 
old — an affected repetition of what has been. 
Its value is that of a theatrical intermezzo, which 
serves to amuse the multitude while the stage re- 
mains empty between the acts. The new is 
achieved by genius that is never guided by the 
multitude; the modern by the masses. Thus 
the materialism of the present day is modern; and 
akin to it and likewise modern are the cam- 
paigns that are carried on, amid loud applause. 


against all the greatness of our past in art and 
science. Everybody who courts ignorant ap- 
plause has the word "practical" in his mouth; 
everybody, forsooth, will be practical ; and so he 
is, provided he can thus pursue and attain his 
own ends. Only these interests of the present 
day, and of special coteries, have no right to appeal 
to Bacon, who, in science, had nothing in com- 
mon with them ; and who, if he knew of such nar- 
row and mischievous prejudices, would doubtless 
liave classed them — and very properly — among 
the " Idola fori." If, like Bacon, we consider prac- 
tical utility on a grand scale, measuring it not by 
individuals, but by the state of the world, theory 
becomes expanded of itself; and the passion for 
knowledge has no reason to fear that an arbitrary 
restraint will ever be imposed upon it in con- 
sequence of such a practical point of view. 

The genuine mind of Bacon is a wholesome ex- 
ample for any time. After the purely theoretical 
labours in art and science have come, as it seems, 
to a stop for some time, the impulse to an activity 
and culture of general utility is revived with 
increased liveliness, philosophy seeks anew the 
exact sciences and experience, and her desire for 
knowledge is once more directed to the living 
objects of nature and history. The exact sciences 
r> D 


are applied to public life, that they may stimu- 
late it to invention, or instruct and enlighten it. 
Thus the physical sciences fertilise history, the 
historical fertilise politics ; everywhere an effort is 
revealed on the part of scientific theory to become 
useful, or, at any rate, generally intelligible. The 
departments of science vie with each other in con- 
tributing their aid to general culture and serving 
practical interests. Those among them all that 
contribute the most, are of the greatest value 
with regard to that culture that has general 
utility for its end; and this pre-eminence un- 
doubtedly belongs to the physical sciences, espe- 
cially those that by dint of mechanical and che- 
mical discoveries have elevated the inventive 
mind, and enabled it by new means of communi- 
cation and industry to give an entirely new form 
to ordinary life. Here the spirit of Bacon has 
imprinted upon the present deep traces that are 
not to be mistaken. Nay, the whole scientific 
energy of our times is Baconian in its tendency, 
and we can easily see why the augurs of the day 
once more evoke this name with increased urgency. 
We grant, that any attempt to oppose such a tor- 
rent, with a dam stronger than itself, would be 
futile indeed ; but then, on the other hand, no one 
should attempt to convert the torrent itself into a 


dam, and thus to petrify the spirit of Bacon into 
a Plercules' pillar. Far from disregarding the 
example of Bacon, we would oppose a true to 
a fallacious example. The spirit of Bacon may, 
indeed, stand as a model for the present ; but it 
should appear in all its greatness, not as a dis- 
figured or diminished counterfeit, such as the 
celebrated English historian gives us in his etch- 
ing. Bacon's opposition to theory was in a 
double sense historical. He opposed an historical 
theory that belonged to the past; he sprang from 
an historical position that was to decide the turn- 
ing-point between the past and the future. This 
opposition was relative, and should not be made 
absolute ; being mainly adapted to a certain age, 
it should not be applied to ourselves and all ages 
without distinction. That which is an " idol, " 
though an inevitable one, in Bacon, ought not to 
be converted into a truth for us ; for the light 
of the Baconian mind would thus be turned into 
a misleading ignis fatuus, which, at the present 
day, no one would have been less inclined to 
follow than Bacon himself. Even Mr. Macaulay 
shows how little that opposition, which he stamps 
with the name of Bacon, is really grounded in 
his own mind. If we set every other consi- 
deration aside, the very style shows, that where 

D D 2 


Bacon was in earnest, Macaulay is only in sport. 
Bacon had experienced within himself and actually 
felt his opposition to antiquity, and to that which 
he calls theoretical philosophy. The opposition 
lay in the very condition of his intellectual nature. 
Very different, even as to its expression, does 
this opposition appear in Macaulay, by whom it is 
reduced to an artificial antithesis, which with the 
readiest dexterity passes from one party-word to 
another. This is the language not of simple 
feeling, but of artificial imitation. Mr. Macaulay, 
in his essay, bears the same relation to Bacon that 
a rhetorical figure bears to a natural character. 
Voltaire would have stood in a similar relation to 
Shakespeare if he had wished to represent and 
imitate a Shakesperian character. 

History itself has pronounced the final judg- 
ment in this matter, and the historical fact is the 
last negative instance that we shall oppose to 
Macaulay. Bacon's philosophy is not an end of 
theories, but the starting-point of new theories, 
which were its necessary results in England and 
France, and of which some were practical in 
Mr. Macaulay's sense of the word. Hobbes was 
the disciple of Bacon. His ideal of a state is the 
direct opposite of the Platonic ideal in every point 
save one — namely, that it is an equally im- 


practicable theory. Macaulay, however, terms 
Hobbes the most acute and powerful of human in- 
tellects. If, now, Hobbes was a practical philo- 
sopher, what becomes of Macaulay's politics ? If, 
on the other hand, Hobbes was not a practical 
philosopher, what becomes of Macaulay's philo- 
sophy, that pays homage to the theorist Hobbes ? 

D D 3 




Strictly speaking, philosophical schools are 
always the inheritors of systems. Where there 
are no systems, there is likewise no inheritance ; 
for this arises when the school takes in hand and 
further elaborates, formally or materially, the intel- 
lectual edifice* of the master, if this edifice is not 
already complete enough to be inhabited in peace 
and comfort. In modern philosophy such schools 
have been founded by Descartes, Leibnitz, Kant, 
and Hegel. The Baconian philosophy has not 
had a school In the same sense as these ; the for- 
mation of a system belonged neither to its pur- 
pose nor- its constitution. Not in its purpose ; 
for Bacon was a declared foe to every mania for 
scientific sects and systems, well knowing the 
mischief that is done to scientific progress by 
the confinement of forms. Not in its constitu- 
tion ; for this, like the mind of the founder, was 

* The compound word, " Lehrgebaude," is commonly ren- 
dered " system ;" but to accommodate Dr. Fischer's image it 
must be reduced to its elements.— J. O. 


not planned for the formation of a complete and 
fully developed theory ; — for the establishment of 
a doctrine simply to be handed down from master 
to pupil, and to be elaborated ia the same scho- 
lastic spirit. Just as in the strict sense of the 
word, we cannot say there was a Baconian sys- 
tem, so we cannot say that — strictly speaking — 
there was a Baconian school. 

The influence of this philosophy extends far 
beyond the sphere of the learned ; it gives a ten- 
dency of the mind, which once taken, cannot be 
abandoned. Systems die out, for there is no per- 
manence in forms ; but a necessary tendency of 
the mind, founded in human nature, is eternal. 
The nearer a philosophy stands to common life, 
the nearer its ideas correspond to actual wants, 
the less systematic It will probably be; but so 
much the more indestructible will be its weight, 
so much the more lasting will be its vitality. It 
is impossible to banish experience from human 
science; — and equally impossible to banish ex- 
periment, the comparison of particular cases, the 
force of negative instances, and the observation 
of prerogative instances from the region of ex- 
perience. It is likewise impossible to deprive 
human life of the possessions that result from 
experimentalising experience — namely, natural 

D D 4 


science and invention; and if all this is impos- 
sible, the Baconian philosophy stands secure for 
all ages. 


But it is another question whether all science 
consists merely of experience, whether experi- 
ments constitute the whole of observation, whether 
all the wants of human life are to be satisfied — 
the theoretical by natural science, the practical 
by invention. If such is not the case, only one 
hemisphere of life is illumined by the Baconian 
philosophy. By' this consideration the value of 
experience is not denied, but the worth of the 
Baconian philosophy is limited. Its limit does 
not consist in its exaltation and logical vindication 
of experience, but in its utter subjugation to expe- 
rience, in its reduction of all human knowledge 
without exception to the level of experience. 
This limit, at the same time, expresses the cha- 
racter, the specific difference of the Baconian 
philosophy, which is valid as a special philosophy, 
and in this capacity will serve as a guide for a 
series of investigations, which describe* a whole 
period. Bacon has referred human knowledge to 

* " Describe," in the sense in which a planet is said to de- 
scribe its orbit.— J. 0. 


experience by rectifying the latter, and at the 
same time limits philosophy to experience, by 
elevating the latter into the principle of all 
sciences. Now, it is very possible to take the 
first of these steps without taking the second; 
and while we unconditionally agree with Bacon 
in the one case, we may have our doubts about 
the other, for it is one thing to seek experience, 
another to make experience a principle. Here is 
the difference between Empiria* and Empirism. 
The former is experience as abundance and en- 
joyment, the latter is experience as a principle, 
which we may adopt and be very poor in true 
experience after all. Experience of the world 
always enriches science and extends it to an im- 
measurable degree. This is the positive and 
lasting influence of Bacon. It is true that ex- 
perience of the world does not satisfy all the as- 
pirations after knowledge that are to be found in 
human nature, but then it stands in the way of 
none. On the other hand, the philosophy of expe- 
rience expressly opposes itself to all the specula- 
tive wants that experience of the world does not 
satisfy. It weakens the scientific interest in all 

* It is needless to state that this word properly signifies neither 
more nor less than " experience ;" but as Dr. Fischer uses it in 
addition to " Erfahrung " in a definite sense, it must be retained 
—J. O. 


things that are not objects of experience, and 
would most readily turn this interest into indif- 
ference. Thus, for instance, religious indifference 
was founded in the very character of the Baconian 
philosophy. Indispensable as experience is to 
human knowledge, the principle of experience is of 
dubious value in philosophy: — not merely be- 
cause it sets limits to the human mind, but because 
it is a principle assumed, though in itself doubt- 
ful — a dogma. Knowledge is only attainable 
by experience — such is the first axiom of the 
Baconian philosophy. Is even the truth of this 
axiom known by experience ? and if so, by what 
experience? Are we not compelled to ask: By 
what experience is the principle of experience 
guaranteed ? How does experience vindicate it- 
self? Or are we not allowed, — nay, are we for- 
bidden to judge the philosophy of experience by 
its own maxims ? This inevitable test was natu- 
rally applied after the philosophy of experience 
had gone through its historical phases; and re- 
sulted in the decision that experience must no 
longer be received as an axiom, — that the philo- 
sophy of experience cannot be dogmatical, but 
only sceptical. This decision does not weaken 
" Empiria," but Empirism. 




The realistic philosophy has now arrived at its 
last exclusive point of view. It follows the 
Baconian spirit, not in that extended sense which, 
conformably to experience, would widen the com- 
pass of human knowledge, but in that narrow 
sense which would restrict philosophy ; that is to 
say, all human knowledge to experience. Hence 
we may foresee that the Baconian sphere of vision 
will become narrower and more exclusive at every 
step; but that, likewise, in conformity to its 
principles, it will be more logically and rigidly 
defined. Indeed, it is the nature of the philo- 
sophy of experience to become more narrow, the 
more it accommodates itself to the logical fetters 
of its principles. "We can indicate the charac- 
teristics that have been already foreshadowed 
in the Baconian philosophy, and which become 
clearer and sharper at every logical step. 

If experience can alone pronounce a final de- 
cision in every case, nothing but what is actually 
perceived can be accepted as a real object, and 
this will also be an individuality. On this sup- 
position '^ universals'' and generic ideas must be 
rejected, or, at any rate, merely regarded as 
names and symbols, which contribute nothing to 


the knowledge of things, but only facilitate com- 
munication. To use the language of the scholiasts, 
Empiricism regards "universals" not as realia, 
but as nominalia. Hence the whole philosophy 
of experience, together with Bacon, is nomi- 
nalistic in its views. Universal ideas are words, 
without objective foundation or anything objective 
to correspond to them ; for the individual thing 
that we actually perceive is alone truly objective. 
Words are arbitrary signs, coined, like money, for 
the sake of intercommunication. Thus, language 
generally is to be looked upon as a work effected 
by human agreement, as a method of conver- 
sation ; and from this point of view it is investi- 
gated and criticised by the Baconian philosophy. 
Indeed Bacon himself had already classed the 
public credit that is given to words, among the 
" Idola fori." With this view of generic ideas 
and of language, an anti-formalistic tendency is 
necessarily associated; — an opposition to the 
Platonico- Aristotelian and scholastic philosophy, 
an aversion to any explanation of the world by 
final causes. Hence, as a matter of course, fol- 
lows a predilection for materialism, as opposed to 
formal philosophy ; for a mechanical explanation 
of things, as opposed to teleology ; for Democritus 
and Epicurus, as opposed to Plato and Aristotle. 
All these characteristics are foreshadowed in 


Bacon, and are common to tlie upholders of 
realistic philosophy, who ever bear this Baconian 

Now if things cannot be thought by means of 
intellectual and generic ideas, the symbols of 
which are words, nothing is left for us but to 
think by means of the senses and their impres- 
sions ; and thus experience is limited to sensuous 
perception. " All knowledge is experience," 
says Empirism. "Experience is only sensuous 
perception," says Sensualism, which has its neces- 
sary foundation in the philosophy of experience, 
and already is clearly foreshadowed by Bacon. 

And what are things-in-themselves *, if they 
exclude all generic universality, and are merely ob- 
jects of our sensuous perceptions ? They must be 
the reverse of genera — individuals of a material 
kind — that is to say, atoms. According to its 
positive principles, the nominallstic view is also 
atomistic. The atomistic view belongs to the very 
character of a philosophy that deliberately limits 
itself to experimentalising experience; avoids the 
abstract ideas of the intellect ; approaches things 
themselves, instrument in hand, not to generalise 
the conceptions of bodies, but to dissect the bodies, 

* It need scarcely be mentioned that " Ding-aa-sich " (thing 
in itself) is a, Kantian expression used to denote a thing in its 
own nature, independent of our perceptions. — J. 0. 


and reduce them to their ultimate parts. This 
direction has been unequivocally taken even by 
Bacon himself; and the further the realistic philo- 
sophy leaves Bacon behind, so much the more 
definite does the atomistic view become ; so much 
the more clearly, unreservedly, and exclusively, 
is materialism revealed. This proceeds so far, 
that it at last gives atomistic explanations even of 
space and time, which it declares to be composed 
of simple elementary particles. The infinite 
divisibility of space and time is declared to be the 
greatest absurdity by the same thinker, who con- 
verts the Baconian philosophy into scepticism. 

We shall find that the empirism founded by 
Bacon is heightened in its atomistic, sensualistic, 
and nominalistic tendencies, as it logically pro- 
gresses, and that at last it resolves itself into 


These are the leading points of view taken by 
the thinkers of the Baconian age. We shall 
clearly and concisely bring forward the principal 
characteristics of this age, merely marking those 
points in the progress of the Baconian philosophy 
that may really be considered developments*, 

* " Portbildungen ;" literally " progressive formations, or elabo- 
rations." — ,T. O. 


whether they fulfil requlsitiona that Bacon has 
made, or carry out inquiries that he has stimu- 
lated ; I mean such requisitions and such problems 
as immediately belong to the philosophical prin- 
ciples themselves. All these developments of the 
philosophy of experience have their roots in 
Bacon. To these roots we especially direct our 
attention here ; firstly because they have not been 
sufl&ciently regarded, and the later advocates of 
realistic philosophy have been far too readily con- 
sidered independent and peculiar thinkers than 
they really were; whereas, if they are compared to 
Bacon, they are nothing of the sort, or, at any 
rate, only to a very limited extent. Secondly, 
because we cannot better appreciate and under- 
stand these later results than by deducing them 
from their natural and historical origin, and, as it 
were, drawing them forth by the root out of the 
Baconian philosophy. Bacon himself, when he 
speaks of the method of instruction, makes the 
excellent remark that we cannot teach sciences 
better than by laying bare their roots to the 

Compare •' De Augm." VI. 2, 


I. The Atomism or Hobbes. 

If we regard the Baconian philosophy in the 
direction which it took as opposed to antiquity 
and scholasticism, in the constitution which it 
adopted in conformity with that tendency, these 
points of view will appear most conspicuous : 
The sciences generally should be brought back to 
natural science as their foundation ; — natural 
science should be based upon pure experience, 
and this, again, upon the natural understanding. 
Bacon had declared that natural science is the 
great parent of all the sciences ; on this founda- 
tion, not only the physical disciplines, such as 
astronomy, optics, mechanics, medicine, &c., were 
to be renovated ; but, " what will surprise many," 
the humanistic also, such as morals, politics, and 
logic. This was a demand made by Bacon, — and, 
indeed, he was compelled to make it by the very 
nature of his philosophy ; — but which he himself 
only hinted at in morals, left unfulfilled in politics, 
while he expressly declared it was not to be fid- 
filled in the case of religion. Here is a gap within 
the precincts of the Baconian philosophy ; and this 
consequently is the problem that has first to be 
solved. Bacon wished to be silent on the subject 
of politics ; and religion, according to him, was to 


have nothing to do with natural knowledge. If 
we accurately formulise this problem, we shall find 
that in its broadest sense it insists that the moral 
w orld shall be explained on naturalistic principles, 
— that it shall be based On the natural state 
of man, and deduced from that basis. Hence 
we have the questions : " Which is the natural 
state of man ? How does the moral order of 
things result from it?" or, to speak the lan- 
guage of Bacon, "How does the 'status civilis' 
follow from the ' status naturalis' of man ?" This 
problem is solved bj Thomas Hobbes, the imme- 
diate successor and disciple of Bacon. 

He solves it altogether in the atomistic spirit 
of the Baconian philosophy. He becomes the 
politician of this tendency, and on political grounds 
detests the philosophers of antiquity with a violence 
still greater than that with which, on logical and 
physical grounds, they are opposed by Bacon. 
He wished to banish Plato and Aristotle from his 
state, as mischievous to the common weal, just as 
Plato from his republic would have banished 
Homer. In Hobbes the atomistic and nomlnal- 
istic view is sharply and unscrupulously expressed, 
and that in reference to politics. All generic 
ideas are to him mere names and words ; and these 
are nothing but conventional expedients for mutual 
intercourse. " Words," says Hobbes, " are wise 

£ E 


men's counters, they do but reckon by them ; but 
they are the money of fools, that value them by 
the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a 
Thomas (Aquinas)."* Thinking is judging; 
judgments are propositions; propositions consist 
of words; words are counters. Hence, with 
Hobbes, thinking is the same as reckoning. 


Hobbes's view of nature, and also of the natural 
condition of mankind, was purely atomistic. From 
these principles he deduced the necessity of a 
natural contract; upon this contract he founded 
the state, to which he made morals and religion 
unconditionally subordinate. His conception of 
morals and religion was purely political, his ex- 
planation of the state itself purely naturalistic, — 
that is to say, it was founded on a natural con- 
tract, which was the necessary consequence of the 
natural condition of man. Thus that which Bacon 
either could not or would not effect was effected 
by Hobbes, — namely, the reduction of the whole 
moral world, together with the state, to natural 
laws. The state, in the worldly-political sense 
of the word, was to him the absolute and om- 
nipotent total of all human community, of all 

* " Leviathan," Pt. I. chap. iv. 


public religion and morality. Hence he calls this 
state the "mortal god" or the "great Leviathan," 
which recklessly swallows up individuals. His 
principal work is entitled " Leviathan, or the 
Matter, Form, and Power of the Ecclesiastical 
and Political State." Humanity, as the sum total 
of all community, is a product of political right, 
which, in its turn, is a product of natural right. 
Hence Hobbes unconditionally rejects the eccle- 
siastical state, and, likewise unconditionally, in- 
sists on the temporal authority in the state as an 
absolute power, altogether unlimited and Illimit- 
able. From this point of view Hobbes necessarily 
attacks every religion that Is independent of the 
state, or — what is still worse — would be an ab- 
solute state itself, to which the political should 
be subordinate. He is the most violent opponent 
of the Puritans and Independants, on the one 
sjde, and of the pope, the hierarchy, and the 
Jesuits, on the other. His " Leviathan " is, at 
the same time, directed against Cromwell — who, 
with the aid of an unfettered religion, had just 
overthrown the monarchy In England — and 
against Cardinal Bellarmln, whose books In de- 
fence of the papal power he expressly refutes. 

E E 2 



Religion and morality, properly so called, are, 
according to Hobbes, only possible through the 
state, for it is by the state that they are first 
made. By religion Hobbes understands the general 
belief in a Deity, and a public worship of Him ; 
by morality, the public system of ethics. It is 
only through the character of a community that 
faith becomes a religion, and the moral sense 
morality.* Hence it follows, as a matter of course, 
that without human community there is neither 
religion as a common worship of God, nor morality 
as a common duty. 

But the natural condition of man excludes all 
community. In this, men are merely natural 
forces, every one of which seeks to maintain and 
augment itself at the expense of all the others. 
Here, as so many unrestrained atoms, the rude 
impulses and desires, the selfish passions and 
emotions, predominate, and necessarily change the 
natural condition of man into a war of all with 
all. The selfishness of the individual alone 
decides the value of things, and determines the 

* By the use of the word " Sittenlehre," in addition to 
" Moral," an appearance of tautology, unayoidable in English, 
is avoided in German J. 0. 


category to whicli they belong. The object of a 
selfish desire is termed good; that of a selfish 
aversion is termed bad. I seek what is useful, 
I avoid what is hurtful, to — myself. Thus private 
interest is the sole arbiter as to what is good and 
what is bad ; these definitions are merely relative, 
according to the standard of individuals, and are 
as various as individuals themselves. " Nothing," 
says Hobbes, " is in itself good or bad, beautiful or 
ugly." There is, therefore, no natural morality ; 
or, what is the same thing, the natural element 
of aU so-caUed morality is human egoism. This 
is the concise proposition which, as the funda- 
mental theme of their ethics, is carried out by 
the materialistic moralists of the Anglo-Gallic 
"enlightenment," such as Mandeville and Hel- 
vetius. They take root in Hobbes. 

The natural man is the' selfish man. He only 
seeks to maintain himself and his own power, 
and, consequently, to increase the latter. He 
loves whatever promotes this power, hates what- 
ever limits and imperils it. What he hates he 
attacks and persecutes ; what he cannot attack he 
fears. Fear is impotent hatred; it is flight in 
the place of combat; it is a consequence of the 
inability to carry on and endure the fight. Hence 
the natural man hates and attacks the assailable 
powers that threaten his own ; he fears and flies 

E E 3 


those which are unapproachable, — the superior 
forces of nature. Here, with the ability of com- 
petition, the fight ends likewise ; mighty nature 
with her terrors disarms man, and he stands timid 
and impotent before her. He does not know how 
to attack her. Why ? Because he is unac- 
quainted with the causes of her terrible pheno- 
mena. If he knew them, he would seek to devise 
means by which he might conquer the dangerous 
powers, and invention would take the place of 
fear. But, as he is not acquainted with their 
causes, a fear of mysterious, unapproachable, de- 
moniac powers results from his ignorance ; and 
this fear produces religion. Religion is a child 
of fear, which, in its turn, is a child of ignorance. 
This proposition shows the opinion of religion 
held by the philosophy of experience, when this 
is consistent with its own premisses ; it is that 
favourite theme of the Voltairian enlightenment 
that is repeated with such especial satisfaction by 
the materialists of the A nglo-Gallican school. Th e 
explanation of religion was thus made to coincide 
so completely with the negation of religion, that 
nothing was left for the " cultivated world " but 
to scoff at religion altogether. As with Epicurus 
the Gods reside in the interstices of the world, so 
with Hobbes does religion exist in the interstices 
of physical science. Bacon had utterly excluded 


religion from the natural knowledge of things; 
and Hobbes does the same. But Bacon based 
religion upon the supernatural revelation of God, 
whereas Hobbes bases it upon the natural igno- 
rance of man. This religion based upon igno- 
rance and blind fear is nothing but superstition. 
Thus religion is superstitious even in its natural 
origin; or, in other words, there is no such 
thing as natural religion. 

Such, according to Hobbes, is the position of 
morality and religion. The principle of natural 
morality is human selfishness — the opposite of all 
morality. The principle of natural religion is 
superstitious fear — the opposite of all religion. 
The two propositions are closely and logically 
connected. All who have endeavoured to deduce 
morality from selfishness have deduced religion 
from fear, and vice versa. 

By the conversion of the natural condition of 
man into the state, his life, from being atomistic, 
becomes social and gregarious. The state by 
public laws declares what is good and bad for all. 
It thus marks the distinction between just and 
unjust actions, and likewise determines what is 
to be believed by all, what Deity is to be wor- 
shipped, and in what form. Thus the political 
sanction, the law of the state, alone pronounces 
the final decision between good and bad, between 

EE 4 


religion and superstition; the law of the state 
alone determines what is universally useful, and 
should be universally revered, and thus constitutes 
both morality and religion. A legal action is 
good, an illegal action bad ; the legal worship of 
the Deity is religion, the illegal, superstition. In 
the natural condition of man, according to Hobbes, 
everything is bad that injures me, every faith is 
superstitious that is not mine. In the state, on 
the contrary, the fear of such invisible beings as 
are publicly sanctioned by the legislature is alone 
religion; all else is superstition. Thus Hobbes 
plainly defines superstition as " the fear of invi- 
sible beings that are not publicly recognised." 
The distinctions between legal and illegal, and all 
that belongs to them — namely, the distinctions be- 
tween good and evil, religion and superstition — 
are as absolute as the state itself. That distinc- 
tion between legality and morality, upon which 
Kant rested the whole weight of his ethics, does 
not exist from the point of view taken by 
Hobbes, who recognises only one standard for the 
worth of actions, — namely, the public law. " The 
public law is the citizen's only conscience." There 
is -with Hobbes no " tribunal," either within or 
without the state, stronger than the state itself; 
the state is absolute. 



But how does this atomistic state result from 
the atomistic condition of nature ? The answer 
isj by a naturally legal contract. Thus the first 
question is divided into two: How does a 
natural contract, in any form whatever, result 
from the natural condition of man? How does 
the absolute state, however constituted, result 
from the natural contract ? 

The natural condition of man is a war of all 
against all, which necessarily arises, because the 
human forces, by their very nature, are opposed in 
hostility to each other. But this very war, in the 
most formidable manner, threatens every indi- 
vidual with the loss of life and happiness ; it is 
injurious to every one, and, consequently, repug- 
nant to that law of nature by which every indi- 
vidual instinctively seeks the enjoyment of life, 
and fears death. The law of nature counsels 
every one to seek his own safety ; and this en- 
joins every one to cease a war by which, to the 
highest degree, his safety is imperilled. It says, 
" Do not fight any longer, but let every one, for 
his own advantage, agree with all the rest." For 
this purpose, all those conditions that disturb the 
general peace must be abandoned. Those condi- 


tions lie in the natural right by which every in- 
dividual is permitted, nay, enjoined, to increase 
his own power at the expense of the others. Con- 
sequently all must abandon their natural rights, 
or, what is the same thing, transfer them to a 
third party. The " renuntiation " is, at the same 
time, a " translation." It takes place on all sides, 
because it is required by everybody ; it is re- 
ciprocal, because every one parts with his own 
right on the sole condition that others shall do 
the like. This reciprocal transfer of rights forms 
the contract ; and the contract constitutes the 
essence of the state in human society. It is com- 
manded by the natural law of necessity, and is, 
therefore, to be implicitly carried out. Its object 
is the coexistence of persons in peace and secu- 
rity. All the conditions required for its existence 
are natural laws, the sum total of which consti- 
tutes, according to Hobbes, the only real morality. 
The right, once transferred, is irrevocable ; con- 
sequently the social contract itself can neither be 
rescinded nor altered. This contract is the foun- 
dation of the state, and holds the position in 
politics that is held by axioms in science. To 
contradict an axiom is absurd ; and, in like manner, 
it is absurd and also wrong to rescind the contract 
that has once been established. That it may be 
impossible to commit such a wrong, the contract 


must not merely consist of words, but must be 
armed with a power that imperiously requires and, 
in cases of necessity, compels recognition, — that 
can preserve its consistency, and, in cases of ne- 
cessity, defend it. To the society formed by virtue 
of this contract, all the rights and powers of in- 
dividuals are transferred. Society wields absolute 
power, and thus forms the state, which unites all 
rights and all power within itself. The power of 
the state is sole, unlimited, indivisible ; it can 
neither be divided nor limited. In the pre- 
sence of the state, all are subjects. The state 
alone rules, and is alone free. The others obey, 
they mus( do, what is enjoined by the laws. 
" Their freedom," says Hobbes, " exists only in 
that which is not prohibited by the laws." The 
state is absolute. 

Now, this all-powerful state, this "people" to 
whom every individual is a subject — in what 
form does it exist ? who is the state ? Accord- 
ingly as the power is lodged with one person or 
many, the form of the state may be distinguished 
as monarchical, aristocratic, or democratic; but 
whatever be the form, the power of the state is, 
in all cases, absolute and indivisible. According 
to Hobbes, the legislative must not be separated 
from the governing power, nor the judicial power 
from the other two. All the powers are united 


in a single hand, and are best and most natu- 
rally united in a single person. This absolute 
monarchy, or the absolute state in the form of 
monarchy, is, according to Hobbes, the normal 
condition of polity. " Society," " community," 
''people," "state," "king," are identical expres- 
sions. The king is the people, he is the whole ; 
he concentrates within himself all the civil power; 
it is therefore logically impossible for a people to 
rebel against the king, for the king, in that case, 
would rebel against himself. Hence, in this model 
state, projected by Hobbes, the king might say, 
with Louis XIV., " L'etat c'est moi." 

It is a natural consequence of the point of view 
taken by Hobbes in this theory of a state, that 
he most strenuously opposes the political principles 
of antiquity, of the middle ages, and of modern 
times, — the first, because they are republican; the 
second because they are partly feudal, partly 
hierarchic ; the third, because they are constitu- 
tional. As opposed to antiquity, Hobbes is in 
favour of absolute monarchy ; as opposed to the 
middle ages, he is the decided adversary of feu- 
dality, of the rule of priests and nobles; as 
opposed to modern times, he is an absolutist. As 
Bacon directs his blows against the Aristotelian 
Organon, so does Hobbes assail the Aristotelian 
politics. Both lay to the charge of Aristotle 


the worst evils with which they are acquainted. 
Bacon mates him responsible for the wretched 
condition of science, and the word-wisdom of the 
English universities; Hobbes, for the wretched 
condition of the state, the destruction of civil 
order by the revolution, the English civil war, 
and the execution of Charles I. He desires that 
the republican writings of the Greeks and Romans 
should not be read in monarchical states, for they 
breed a " tyrannophobia, which is as bad as hydro- 
phobia." The advocates of the hierarchy, espe- 
cially the Jesuits, attack Hobbes as an atheistical 
politician. Montesquieu and Kant attack him as 
an absolutist. They make civil liberty depend upon 
the separation of the powers of the state, whereas 
Hobbes considers that the state is imperilled by 
every separation of the kind, and will concede no 
other liberty than that which is not prohibited by 
the monarch. Every doctrine in favour of the 
limitation of the monarchical power is, in his 
opinion, revolutionary. The royal power should 
not be limited by anything ; no moral conscience, 
no religious freedom, are to prevail against it ; no 
private rights are to be considered inviolable, so far 
as the monarchy is concerned. The king, as the 
embodied law, sanctions the public faith, and is the 
state and church in one person. What this church 
prescribes, must be believed in blind obedience 


without investigation. If this church is pleased to 
sanction the Bible, the Bible is to be taken as tlie 
rule of faith without limitation, or so much as a 
scruple. It depends on this church alone what 
scriptures are to be deemed holy or canonical — in 
this church, which is the state, that is to say, the 
king. Thus does Hobbes understand a Christian 
state. There is the king, who gives the force of 
law to the articles of the Christian faith ; there is 
the people, that acknowledges and follows as its 
religious code the articles that the king has sanc- 
tioned. With Hobbes, religious faith is nothing 
more than political obedience, equally uncon- 
ditional, cold, and external. To his own infidelity 
he gives vent by converting religious faith into a 
state-edict — that is to say, a royal command ; we 
are to believe not from conviction, but from sub- 
ordination. With this subordination he is in 
earnest; but on the inner side of faith, on the 
conviction of the believer himself, he lays no 
stress at all. > When he talks of it, he scarcely 
conceals his own coldness and indifference. The 
simile which is used on one occasion by Hobbes, 
to illustrate obedience in faith, is highly charac- 
teristic. He rejects all rational criticism of the 
canonical writings, on the ground that "divine 
mysteries must not be chewed, but swallowed 
whole, like pills." Bacon compares the articles 


of faith to the rules of a game ; Hobbes compares 
them to pills: such is the hollowness, and in 
truth the profanity, of both in their internal 
relation to that religious faith to which they 
would give external support. The essential point 
is, that both accept faith through the medium of 
worldly policy. 

Though he proceeds on similar hypotheses, J. J. 
Kousseau, in his " Contrat Social," appears as 
the very antipode of Hobbes, Both agree in the 
theory of a contract, by means of which they 
found the state, and put an end to the natural con- 
dition of man. Both would deduce the " status 
civilis" from the " status naturalis" by means of a 
contract, which converts (isolated) individuals into 
a society. Both take the same atomistic view of 
the natural condition of man. But here Rousseau 
differs in a peculiar manner from Hobbes, both 
by his nearer apprehension of the natural con- 
dition of man, and his nearer definition of the 
form of state resulting from a contract. Accord- 
ing to Rousseau men are not enemies by nature ; 
hence in a natural condition there is no war of all 
against all, nor, as in war, does the greatest right 
consist of the greatest might — in a word, the 
right of the strongest does not prevail. On such 
a right alone does Hobbes base the natural right 
of absolute-monarchy, which rests upon a contract 


that perpetuates the right of the strongest. With 
Hobbes, the contract is really on one side only ; 
with Eousseau, it is truly reciprocal. With the 
former, all part with their rights, which they 
consign to an individual, who from that moment 
is alone all-powerful. " Men," says Eousseau, 
" according to the theory of Hobbes, give them- 
selves away for nothing ; and they turn a natural 
condition to a state, as the Greek heroes took 
refuge in the cave of the Cyclops." This state 
is, according to Hobbes's own expression, the 
all-absorbing Leviathan. Eousseau, on the other 
hand, would, by his contract, unite all to equal 
rights and equal duties ; his social contract forms 
a state the power of which is lodged in the entire 
people, which with him consists not of a single 
individual, but of all. Hence his form of govern- 
ment is democratic. A state that gives equal 
rights follows from a contract that gives equal 
rights; and this results, according to Eousseau, 
from the natural condition of man. With views 
that are similarly atomistic, and necessarily lead 
to the theory of a political contract, Eousseau is, 
in all essential points, diametrically opposite to 
Hobbes; for he takes an opposite view of the 
natural condition of man, of the contract itself, 
and of the principle of community. With Hobbes, 
the natural condition of man is a wild chaos of 


contending forces ; with Rousseau it is a paradise 
of happy and peaceful creatures ; with the former 
it is barbarous, with the latter it is idyllic. 
Rousseau's state bears to that of Hobbes the 
same relation that material nature bears to the 
terrible Leviathan. We do not stop to inquire how 
far the ideas of both are remote from the truth. 

This point of difference between Hobbes and 
Rousseau is important, and opens a further view 
into the age of Anglo-Gallic " enlightenment." 
By his difference from Hobbes, Rousseau is op- 
posed to the French philosophes, who are the intel- 
lectual progeny of Hobbes and Locke. Herein 
consists the strong contrast between Rousseau, 
on the one side, and Voltaire, Heivetius, Con- 
dillac, Diderot, and, above all, the Holbachians 
(as Rousseau loves to call them), in whom ma- 
terialism reaches its culminating point, on the 
other. Here, in the very midst of the Anglo- 
Gallic " enlightenment," arises a mighty reaction. 
Consistently with his own notions of nature and 
the natural condition of man, Rousseau finds in 
nature the source of morality and religion; he 
does not, like Hobbes and Heivetius, find the 
source of morality in selfishness, but in love ; he 
does not, like Hobbes and Voltaire, find the 
source of religion in blind fear, but in pious 
a<Jmiration. To his eyes nature appears, not as a 

F F 


blind mechanism of forces, but as a moral, loving 
beino-, which unites men in brotherhood, instead of 
setting them against each other as enemies. His 
view of nature was intended to be of a moral-reli- 
gious character, and was therefore to restore natural 
morality and religion in opposition to the prevail- 
ing " enlightenment." Here Rousseau, to a certain 
extent, unites himself with the German " enlight- 
enment," which tends towards Kant ; or, rather, 
German " enlightenment " unites itself with him. 

Nearest akin to Hobbes is Spinoza, on whose 
political theory the English philosopher probably 
exercised an immediate influence. The " Levia- 
than " of Hobbes and the Political Treatise of 
Spinoza agree completely in their fundamental 
principles; but, in results, Spinoza's reason in- 
clines him to the democratic, his wishes to the 
aristocratic form of government, whereas Hobbes, 
both from theory and inclination, chooses absolute 
monarchy. In politics Spinoza holds the middle 
position between Hobbes and Kousseau; in his 
view of the natural condition of man he is en- 
tirely on the side of Hobbes. Spinoza does not, 
any more than Hobbes, discover a source of 
religion and morality in nature; like Hobbes, 
he denies both on natural grounds, while, by 
Rousseau, both, on natural grounds, are affirmed. 
Hobbes's conception of the nature of the Deity was 
likewise similar to Spinoza's. The Deity was to 


be conceived utterly without human analogy, 
determined by no limit, humanised by no pas- 
sion ; all anthropomorphism, in short, was to be 
avoided. The Divine wlU is power; and this 
power is unlimited action. " Of God we can 
only say, in truth, that He is."* If we place 
Bacon by the side of Descartes, we may aptly 
compare Hobbes with Spinoza. Whatever there 
is of Spinozism in the Baconian philosophy is 
most clearly expressed by Hobbes. t 

If we consider Hobbes in reference to Bacon, 
we must say that he has solved a problem, pro- 
posed by the latter in his Organum as entirely 
new, uncommon, and necessary: he has laid a 
physical foundation of morality and politics. And, 
indeed, Hobbes solved the problem in such a 
manner as to make morality and religion sub- 
servient to politics, and to reduce them to the 
laws of nature. 

II. The Sensualism of Locke. 

Bacon had insisted that the laws of nature 
could only be discovered by experience, and that 

* The words of Hobbes are, " For there is but one name to 
signify onr conception of His nature, and that is, I am." — 
Leviathan, II. 31.— J. O. 

■f On the subject of Spinoza's politics, and its relation to 

Hobbes, compare my "Geschichte der neuem Philosophie," 

Yol. i. — Author's Note. 

p r 2 


experience could only be attained by the natural 
understanding. Thus the question remained, 
What is the natural understanding ? Bacon him- 
self was chiefly interested in the question, How 
does experience arrive at invention? This in- 
quiry stands in the foreground of his philosophy ; 
the " Novum Grganum " is devoted to it. In 
the background arises the question. How do 
we arrive at experience ? how does experience 
result from the human mind? Or what is the 
human mind, if its knowledge, as Bacon has 
explained, only consists in experience? This is 
the problem solved by John Locke in his " Essay 
concerning Human Understanding." Locke takes 
root in Bacon ; but, as far as I have seen, those 
who treat of Locke have not sufficiently recognised 
his dependent position with regard to Bacon — 
the historical root of his philosophy. With respect 
to Bacon, he is, indeed, far less independent than 
Hobbes. Hobbes has complied with Bacon's 
boldest requisitions^ and, among all the philoso- 
phers of the Baconian race, is unquestionably the 
most original. Locke has merely carried out what 
Bacon has already explained and promulgated 
throughout his works. Hobbes found in the 
Baconian philosophy a mere cursory hint for the 
establishment of his views, whereas Locke for 
his views found a frequently repeated pattern. 



Bacon had often and expressly declared that 
the human understanding, to think correctly, must 
completely get rid of all preconceived notions. 
From these he had not made a single exception. 
Thus, according to him, there was not a single 
notion of which the understandinsr was unable to 
get rid, not one that was firmly rooted or innate 
in the mind. AU notions must be first acquired 
by experience ; therefore we have not, or ought 
not to have, a single notion prior to experience. 
Thus the mind without experience is destitute of 
all notions, ia perfectly void, like a tabula rasa. 
This, I think, follows by very simple and evident 
reasoning, from the propositions of Bacon ; and 
the conclusion thus drawn forms the starting- 
point of Locke. 

To the question. What is the human mind 
prior to experience ? Locke replies. It is a 
tabula rasa; for there are no "innate ideas.'' Ba- 
con, in strictness, must have given the same 
answer to the same question ; or, rather, he ac- 
tually gave it. It is scarcely necessary to deduce 
Locke's principle from Bacon by a course of rea- 
soning ; we can find the principle, even verbally 
expressed, in Bacon himself. The understanding 
must lay aside all preconceived notions — must, 
a.ccording to the very words of Bacon, clear itself 
rp 3 


of all notions whatever, render itself perfectly- 
pure and empty, return to its original, natural, 
childlike state. Not only according to the spirit, 
but according to the letter, of Bacon's words, the 
human understanding in its original state is desti- 
tute of all notions whatever. He himself calls 
the understanding, thus purified, " intellectus 
abrasus;" he himself compares the mind to a 
thrashing-floor, which must be cleansed, levelled, 
and swept out. In this labour consists the nega- 
tive task of his philosophy ; the first book of his 
" Novum Organum" is expressly occupied with 
the restoration of this " expurgata, abrasa, xquata 
mentis arena." What Bacon calls the empty 
floor, is the empty tablet of Locke ; the thought 
is the same, and the words are essentially the 
same likewise. Bacon says that the human mind 
should be made like an empty tablet. Locke 
says that it is this by nature. In fact, it must be, 
if Bacon does not require an impossibility. What 
Bacon insists upon, as the condition precedent of 
his philosophy, is made by Locke the principle of 
his, — namely, the non-existence of " innate ideas." 
Experience is acquired knowledge ; "innate ideas" 
are not acquired, but original, naturally inherent 
knowledge. The philosophy of experience must, 
as a matter of course, deny " innate ideas." The 
denial is expressed by Bacon, and repeated by 
Locke with a great number of arguments. 


Hence the reason is apparent why Locke is 
commonly regarded as the adversary par excel- 
lence of " innate ideas.'' It does not merely con- 
sist in the fact that Bacon is less generally known. 
The most important contest that has been carried 
on respecting •' innate ideas,'' is associated with 
the name of Locke. " Innate ideas " are affirmed 
by Descartes and Leibnitz, denied by Bacon and 
Locke. Locke opposed Descartes, Leibnitz op- 
posed Locke, each party defending a theory that 
it had not founded, but adopted — Leibnitz the 
Cartesian, Locke the Baconian. They are, there- 
fore, to be regarded as the champions that come 
forward for and against the doctrine of " innate 
ideas," though, in other respects, the relation of 
Leibnitz to Descartes is altogether different from 
that of Locke to Bacon. Against Bayle, Leib- 
nitz wrote the most popular and exoteric of his 
works, the " Theodicee ;" against Locke, the most 
profound and esoteric, the " Nouveaux Essais sur 
I'Entendement Humain." 

Locke, in attacking Descartes, opposes aU " in- 
nate ideas," both theoretical and practical. In 
the human mind there are no innate laws, either 
of the thought or of the will, neither axioms 
nor maxims ; therefore there is no natural know- 
ledge, no natural morality, no natural religion. 
Locke, conformably with the Baconian method, 

F F 4 


confutes in every case by means of "negative 
instances." He says that, if there are -innate 
ideas, all men must have them, whereas expe- 
rience shows that most men know nothing of the 
axioms of contradiction and identity — indeed, 
never acquire a knowledge of them in the whole 
course of their lives. Consequently there are no 
innate ideas, and the human mind is, by nature, 
in every respect empty. 


Hence it follows that all the cultivation and 
repletion of the mind — as there is none by nature 
— is produced gradually. But from original 
emptiness nothing can proceed. Hence human 
culture arises solely from a continued intercourse 
with the world, under external influences ; it is a 
product of experience and education ; it is ac- 
quired*, as it is not original, the result of con- 
ditions external to ourselves. The mode in which 
human knowledge arises is, with Locke, not 
a "generatio ab ovo," as with Leibnitz, but a 
"generatio aequivoca." As, according to this 
physiological theory, the conditions from which 
an animate being results are not themselves 
animate, so, with Locke, the conditions from 

* "1st eine Gewordene " — ylyverai. We have not a precise 
equivalent in English. — J. 0. 


whicli knowledge results are not themselves 
knowledge. There is no natural knowledge, in 
the sense of something originally given, but only 
a natural history of human knowledge, as some- 
thing gradually produced. To pursue this is the 
peculiar office of Locke's philosophy, which de- 
scribes the natural history of the human under- 
standing, after it has shown that the natural 
understanding without history — that is to say, 
without intercourse with the world, without ex- 
perience and education — is altogether empty, a 
tabula rasa. In this character, Locke shows us 
unquestionably his descent from Bacon, his affinity 
and analogy with Hobbes. 

Hobbes teaches the natural origin of the state, 
Locke that of knowledge, both as a generatio 
cequivoca. The former deduces the state from 
conditions that are not a state, nor even analogous 
to a state, but rather the very opposite ; the latter 
deduces knowledge from conditions that are- not 
knowledge, or even prseformations of knowledge, 
but bear the same relation to it that emptiness 
bears to repletion. Hobbes takes the natural 
condition of mankind as his starting-point ; Locke, 
the natural condition of the human mind. This 
"status naturalis" — compared, in the one case, 
with the state, in the other with knowledge — is 
with both a tabula rasa. 



The elements of all our knowledge are repre- 
sentations or " ideas." There are no innate ideas ; 
therefore all ideas are received from without, or 
perceived. We perceive that which takes place 
either within ourselves or externally to ourselves ; 
hence perception is external or internal, or both 
together; the former is termed by Locke sensa- 
tion, the latter reflection. These are the natural 
sources of aU our notions, the canals of the per- 
ceptions, by means of which representations are 
brought to the mind. Thus the blank tablet of 
the understanding is written upon. 

When our notions are derived* through 
perception, they are simple ; when they are de- 
rived from simple notions, they are complex. 
Hence in the whole sphere of the human mind 
there is not a single notion, the elements of 
which are not perceptions. " The soul," says 
Locke, " is like a dark vault that receives beams 
of light through a few chinks, and is able to re- 
tain them." Our knowledge arises from complex 
notions, these from simple notions, and these, 
again, from perception. The simple notions, as 
they are derived from sensation, reflection, or both 
* /. e., immediately. — J. O. 

Locke's division of "ideas." 443 

together, may be divided accordingly. They may 
also be divided accordingly as they arise from 
one sense alone, or several senses together. The 
impenetrability of bodies is, for instance, per- 
ceptible by the touch alone ; it is, therefore, a 
simple " idea of sensation " arising from one sense 
alone. The motion of bodies is a change of place ; 
extension is a definite occupation of space. Bodies 
must be felt; their figure and change of place 
must be seen. Hence motion, extension, space 
are simple " ideas of sensation " which result from 
more than one sense — from sight and touch, 
^Thinking and willing are internal motions of 
the soul. Hence they are ever perceptible by 
reflection, and are, consequently, "simple ideas 
of reflection." Joy and pain are excitements of 
the soul, occasioned by an external impression. 
Hence they are perceived by reflection and sensa- 
tion together, and are " simple ideas " arising from 

We never perceive the intrinsic nature of 
things, but only their outward manifestation and 
qualities. As aU knowledge is a product of the 
perception, Locke is forced to declare that we can 
only know the qualities, never the intrinsic nature 
of things. Thus the philosophy of experience, 
having reasoned itself into sensualism, decries 
metaphysics, and in its own manner anticipates the 


negative result of the Critical Philosophy.* Here 
is the point of agreement between Locke and Kant, 
the point of difference between Locke and Bacon, 
who had allowed the existence of metaphysics. 
Metaphysics profess to be the knowledge of the 
substance of things. Substance is the fundamental 
idea of metaphysics. What is substance ? Not an 
innate or original idea, for, according to Locke, 
there are none ; neither is it a simple idea, for 
substance, as a thing-in-itself (Ding-an-sicK) is not 
perceived ; hence this idea is composed of simple 
ideas, is a creature of our understanding, a merely 
nominal, not a real being. The objective some* 
thing indicated by the word " substance " remains 
dark ; it is the unknown and unknowable essence 
of things. We know not the substance of spirit 
— of the body — of Deity ; or, to express these 
results of Locke in the language of Kant, there is 
no rational Psychology, Cosmology, or Theology. 
However, Locke was neither critical enough, 
nor strict enough, to refrain from every more 
definite expression respecting the concealed sub- 
stance of things. In psychology he is almost a 
materialist, in theology a Deist. In the former 
he plants the germ of that materialistic doctrine 
of the soul, that is afterwards adopted by the 

* This phrase, when used by German philosophical writers, 
always denotes the philosophy of Kant. 


French philosophy ; lu the latter he continues 
the Deism of Bacon, and commences the series of 
English Deists. Locke was consistent in doubting 
the immateriality of the soul, and in declaring, 
with a significant " perhaps," that it is material. 
For he conceived the human mind as a blank 
tablet, which was written on from without, and 
therefore, in truth, an impressionable thing, 
which puts on a corporeal nature. Hence arose 
his controversy with Bishop Stillingfleet, who 
regarded Locke's doctrine of the soul as a gross 
heresy. Hence he was declared to be a decided 
inaterialist by opposite parties — by Stillingfleet 
and Voltaire. This psychological hypothesis of 
Locke was in evident contradiction to his deistical 
principles. In theology Locke took for his founda- 
tion the very point which he had doubted in his 
psychology, basing his proof of the existence of 
the Deity, upon the thinking — that is, the 
spiritual nature of the human soul. The proof, 
concisely expressed, is as follows : — There are 
spirits ; therefore (as their cause) there must be 
an eternal spirit, since the spiritual cannot proceed 
from the spiritless, the thinking from the non- 
thinking. Either — thus reasoned Locke with 
great aciiteness, — either there is no thinking being 
at all, or a thinking being existed from all eternity. 
By thus reasoning he founded a rational theology 


which might be transcended, but was not to be 
contradicted by positive revelation. He denied 
that that which was repugnant to reason was 
worthy of belief, that revelation was to be ac- 
cepted against the evidence of reason. Thus he 
rejected the proposition of TertuUian that Bacon 
had confirmed. 

Locke was, however, compelled in strictness 
to adhere to his assertion, that there is no 
knowledge of the intrinsic nature of things, 
and that all metaphysics professing anything of 
the kind amount to mere word-wisdom. The 
only knowledge is of the qualities of things, 
whether of ourselves or of external bodies. Is 
this knowledge objective or not ? In other words, 
among the qualities capable of being known, 
are there any that belong to the things, apart 
from our perception of them ? Objective qualities 
belong to things in themselves {^Dinge an sich) ; 
other qualities belong only to things perceived, 
and are consequently relative; that is to say, 
they are qualities of things in relation to our- 
selves. Locke calls the former " primary," the 
latter " secondary." Hence the question is, are 
there are any primary qualities ? 

It is certain that within ourselves there are 
mental representations and emotions of the will, 
without any perception of them on our part. 


Thinking and willing are therefore primary quali- 
ties of the human soul. It is likewise certain that 
bodies derive some of their qualities only through 
our perception of them. In themselves they are 
neither sour nor sweet, but first become so when 
we taste them ; in themselves they are neither fra- 
grant nor the reverse, but first become so through 
our sense of smell. These qualities are, as well as 
sounds and colours, secondary. But that which 
we feel corporeally does not exist in our sense of 
touch alone, that which we feel and see does not 
exist solely in our perception ; there are objective 
perceptions to which real qualities of external 
bodies correspond, and such are impenetrability (or 
solidity) and extension, figure and mobility. All 
secondary qualities, according to Locke, must be 
deduced from these primary qualities, — that is to 
say, from the form, number, and motion of minute 
particles. Locke, therefore, desired that all the 
qualities of bodies should be mathematically and 
mechanically explained ; and such an explanation 
was given by Newton. Here Locke's atomistic 
view is most plainly revealed ; and from this may 
his theory of primary qualities be explained. He 
would not allow that there were any qualities in 
bodies but those that belong to atoms, — viz. 
solidity, extension, and mobility; and he there- 
fore could not concede to physics any but a 
mathematical and mechanical explanation. To 


explain a tiling is to trace it to its causes, or to 
discover the natural causal connection of phe- 
nomena. Substance is, with Locke, a general 
idea, a mere nominal being — a word ; causality, 
on the other hand, is a real relation. 

If we compare Locke with Bacon, we find that 
he has given a psychological explanation of expe- 
rience ; and that he has explained it, in conformity 
with Baconian principles, from sensuous percep- 
tion. He has defended the Baconian against the 
Cartesian principles, and expressed the philosophy 
of experience in the more definite and narrower 
form of sensualism. The empirical is with Locke 
identical with the sensuous ; and this is the limit- 
ing criterion of human knowledge. The under- 
standing never comprehends the sensible. That 
which cannot be known by the senses, cannot be 
known at all. Sensuous perception is the root, 
and sensible things are the sole objects of human 
knowledge. Of things themselves only the quali- 
ties — not the substance — can be known; and of 
these qualities, only some are objective and be- 
long to the intrinsic nature of things. Thus, 
after Locke has explained and limited experience 
from a sensualistic point of view, human know- 
ledge is reduced to a very small residue of ob- 
jective elements. Nothing objective can be known, 
but the primary qualities of bodies, and the causal 


connection of phenomena. All else is either not 
to be known at aU — as the intrinsic nature of 
things, — or is mere sensuous perception — as the 
secondary qualities of bodies. This is the exact 
sum total of Locke's philosophy. The question 
now remains, whether a strictly sensualistic point 
of view can permanently secure the last residue 
of human knowledge, or whether, on a closer ex- 
amination, both the constituents, one after another, 
must be abandoned. First comes the inquiry, 
whether the primary qualities of bodies are really 
objective, independently of our perception? If 
they are not, there are but secondary qualities, — 
that is to say, sensuous perceptions. Thus we 
know nothing of external things, but only our 
own impressions; and all human knowledge is 
thoroughly subjective, or nothing but empirical 
self-knowledge. Next comes the inquiry, whe- 
ther causality is a real relation apart from our 
perception, and independent of it. If it is not, the 
last necessary and objective connection that com- 
bines the representations of the human mind into 
knowledge is destroyed; and with this copula the 
last support of our knowledge falls away, ex- 
perience becomes causal perception, and con- 
sequently the philosophy of experience becomes 
scepticism. At these results the English philo- 
sophy arrives, by pursuing the sensualistic point 
G 6 


of view with logical consistency. The first step 
is taken by the Irishman George Berkeley ; the 
second and last, by the Scotsman David Hume. 
Berkeley transforms knowledge as acquired by 
experience into empirical self-knowledge j Hume 
into a mere faith in experience. While Hobbes 
takes the middle position, and forms the transition 
between Bacon and Locke, Berkeley is similarly 
placed between Locke and Hume. Thus the three 
nations united under the British Empire, all take 
part in the history of empirical philosophy. Each, 
by means of its representative, marks a crisis in 
the history of empirism, which is founded in 
England, and when developed progresses to scep- 
ticism, which is prepared in Ireland, and per- 
fected in Scotland. We have shown that Hobbes 
and Locke were consistent Baconians; it will 
now be seen that Berkeley neither is nor de- 
sires to be anything but a consistent Locke, 
and that Hume neither is nor desires to be any- 
thing but a consistent Berkeley. The three 
English philosophers are contemporaries of the 
great epochs in the national history of modern 
England. Bacon, the founder of empirism, 
and the immediate follower of the Reformation, 
began his career with the establishment of the 
House of Stuart, and the foundation of the United 
Kingdom under James I. Hobbes sees the de- 


thronement of the Stuarts, the republic under 
Cromwell, and the restoration of monarchy in the 
person of Charles II. * ; Locke's epoch is marked 
by the second dethronement of the Stuarts, and 
the establishment of the House of Orange; his 
work on the Human Understanding belongs 
exactly to the period of the English revolution, 
and precedes the French revolution by exactly a 

III. The French "Enlightenment." 

As Hobbes and Locke have their root in Bacon, 
so the French philosophy of the 18th century 
has its root in Locke, being related to the Eng- 
lish philosophy as a colony to the mother country. 
It is not our purpose here to examine this colony 
more closely, or to follow out in detail the views 
of the French " enlightenment." Locke's pro- 
pagandist was Voltaire, who transplanted the 
Baconian mode of thought to France, and set it 
in the place of the Cartesian, which had already 
been exploded by Pierre Bayle. Voltaire, one 
of the most fortunate and influential writers that 
the world ever saw, was at the same time one of 
the narrowest disciples of Locke's philosophy, 

* His " Leviathan" is the expression of English absolutism, — 
Author's Note. 

O G 2 


which in itself opened no very broad prospect. 
Never was such wealth of esprit combined with 
such poverty of thought. Never did the so-called 
" enlightenment" extend its conquests so rapidly, 
so widely, and so playfully. " The world was 
astonished," says a serious student of history*, 
"to find how wise it had grown within thirty 
years by means of this man." Voltaire saw and 
judged everything through the medium of Locke, 
to such an extent that he even infected his 
dramatic personages with the English philoso- 
phy, and made the heroine of his "Christian 
tragedy," Zaire, talk as if she had studied the 
Essay on the Human Understanding. She speaks 
of the blank tablets of the mind, that are written 
upon by the influences of the world and educa- 
tion. All the contradictions of his philosophical 
master were adopted by this most docile of pupils, 
who, by his own talent, was able to make them 
easy and agreeable. He converted English phi- 
losophy into a French fashion, depriving it of all 
that was too solid or too difficult for such a posi- 
tion. Voltaire was also, like Locke, though in a 
less serious and inquiring manner, a Deist, whose 
views were in truth materialistic and sceptical. 
His Deism afforded him an opportunity for elo- 

* Spittler, in his " Geschichte der Cliristlicheii Kirclie," vol. ii 
p. 431. 


quent effusions; his materialism, on the other 
hand, allowed him to show the hon sens in con- 
junction with the esprit fort; and the common- 
places of scepticism, in the mouth of a Voltaire, 
sounded like critical acuteness. It was Condillac, 
however, who systematically carried out the prin- 
ciples of Locke, and in his analysis of human 
knowledge* brought sensualism to perfection, 
deducing all human knowledge from sensation 
alone, and leaving only one result possible, — ma- 
terialism in its most naked form. Condillac was 
followed by the Encyclopaedists; and his mate- 
rialism was further elaborated by the Holba- 
chians, represented by Lamettrie and the " Sys- 
t^me de la Nature." The tendency of the 
Baconian philosophy from the time of Locke is 
in England towards scepticism, which is finally 
attained in Hume ; in France towards mate- 
rialism — the light weight of which is suited to the 
capacity of light talents, whose extreme rear- 
guard has come down to our own days, to end, it 
would seem, in Germany. The less the power of 
thought required by a philosophical theory, the 
further will it naturally extend. 

* As contained in the " Essais sur I'Origlne des Connaissances 
Humaines," 1746, and the " Traite des Sensations," 1754. 

o o 3 


IV. The so-called Idealism op Beekelet. 

The appearance of Berkeley among the English 
philosophers is seldom understood. Most are so 
surprised to find in the midst of decided material- 
ists a philosopher who looks like an ultra-idealist, 
that they are tempted to award the latter a to- 
tally different position than historically belongs 
to him. An error of this sort is committed by an 
eminent historian of modern philosophy*, who 
transfers Berkeley from the ranks of the English 
to the ranks of the German philosophers, and 
places him with Leibnitz, as if he were the perfec- 
tion of the latter. Berkeley is not the consistent 
Leibnitz, but the consistent Locke. With Leib- 
nitz he has no historical point of contact ; he rests 
upon Locke, as Hume rests upon him. Berkeley 
takes an historical and philosophical position be- 
tween Locke and Hume, as the link in the series 
that marks a transition. It has been said that both 
Berkeley and Leibnitz attack Locke; and, from the 
opposition thus common to both, an endeavour has 
been made to put them on the same logical level; 
but we cannot deduce the equality of two magni- 
tudes from the fact that they are both unequal to 
a third. Are not Locke and Leibnitz both ad- 

* Erdmann, in his "Goschichto dor neuern Philosophic," ii.2. 


versaries of Descartes, and at the same time op- 
posed to each other on the very point which they 
attack in Descartes, namely, the doctrine of the 
mind? Leibnitz is just as far removed from 
Berkeley as from Locke. He opposes the prin- 
ciples of Locke that are shared by Berkeley, who 
only disagrees with Locke as to consequences. 
It seems that this error has been occasioned by a 
word. The name "idealism," which has been 
given to Berkeley's philosophy, has misled many 
to assign this philosopher to a family very dif- 
ferent from that to which he belongs. Some 
would make him akin to Kant*, others to Leib- 
nitz. Both are wrong. If by " idealism " we 
understand a tendency opposed to the sensual- 
istic, no expression is less suited to the philo- 
sophy of Berkeley ; compared with that of Locke, 
it is not less, but more, sensualistic. Locke was 
not enough a sensualist in the eyes of Berkeley. 
He was so in his principles, but not in his conse- 
quences ; and this is the contradiction that Berke- 
ley points out and solves. Locke had laid down 
the principle, that all knowledge must consist in 
sensuous perception ; and yet he spoke of things 
that could never be perceived, such as material 
substances or bodies in general, as objects of 

* Garve, in his critical review of the "Kritik der reinen Ver- 
nunft," published in the Gottingen " Gelehrte Anzeiger," 1782. 
a o 4 


knowledge. He had laid down the nominalistic 
principle, that generalities are words and not 
things ; and yet he allowed in bodies certain pri- 
mary qualities, such as extension, mobility, so- 
lidity. Is not material substance or body an 
abstract " idea," an empty generality ? Are not 
extension, mobility, solidity, general abstract 
" ideas," which, consistently with his own prin- 
ciples, Locke should have declared to be mere 
words, not things — not objective qualities — not 
real perceptible existences ? But he said the very 
opposite. He was, tried by his own standard, too 
little of a sensualist, too little of a nominalist. He 
still held that some insensible things were per- 
ceptible, that some generalities were real. 


To this point Berkeley directs all his acuteness, 
— an attention thoroughly schooled by nominalism. 
There are no general things or bodies, but only 
individual things, perceptible by the senses. There 
are no more any general bodies than there are 
general triangles ; the existing triangle is always 
definite, either rectangular, acute, or obtuse. 
Neither is there any general extension, motion, or 
solidity, but every conceivable extension is deter- 
mined as large or small, every motion as swift or 
slow, all impenetrability in body, as hard or soft. 


But all quantitative differences, whether of ex- 
tension or motion, are manifestly relative. If I 
change my point of view, or sharpen my sight 
with an instrument, things will appear to me 
larger or smaller. Thus greatness and smallness 
are phenomena of the human vision, as well as 
light, figure, and colour ; they only exist in my 
perception; and as every conceivable extension has 
a definite magnitude, without which it does not 
exist at all, so extension itself is not an objective 
quality of things in themselves, but merely be- 
longs to my own perception. The same may 
be said of motion and solidity. The latter is 
either hard or soft ; but hardness and softness are 
merely human sensations, and exist as little with- 
out our sense of feeUng as sounds without our 
ears, colour without our eyes, sweetness or sour- 
ness without our taste. Therefore what Locke 
calls the primary qualities do not exist. Hence, 
to speak in Locke's language, there are only se- 
condary qualities*, or, all the perceptible qualities 
of things are secondary ; that is, they exist in us, 
not externally. But if everything perceptible is 
within ourselves, what is external to ourselves? 
Things — is the answer. But there are no gene- 
ral things; there are only individual sensible 
things. "What are sensible things, if I deduct 

* Compare the first dialogue between Hylas and Philonons. 


from them all that is sensible or perceptible ? The 
same that an iron ring is, if we take away the 
iron — nothing. The things, if I take away 
human perception, are — nothing. Imperceptible 
things are no things at all. Such nothings are 
bodies and matter in general, whether I consider 
them as the originals of my perceptions, or as 
their cause, or as their instrument, or as anything 
else. After the deduction of all sensible qualities, 
after the deduction of all human perception, matter 
remains equal to — nothing.* Imperceptible things 
are inaudible sounds, invisible colours ; that is to 
say, impossibilities. Perceptible things are no- 
thing but sensuous perceptions, as colours are no- 
thing but phenomena of sight. Thus, by his 
nominalistic criticism of the philosophy of Locke, 
Berkeley arrives at the proposition, there is nothing 
but sensuous perception ; that is to say, there is 
nothing beyond perceiving and perceived (per- 
ceptible) beings. The perceiving being, Berkeley, 
like Locke, calls the mind; the perceived object, 
likewise with Locke, he terms a representation 
or "idea;" and, in this sense, he declares there 
are only minds and "ideas." This proposition is 
called the " idealism of Berkeley ; " but it is, in 
fact, the sensualism of Locke, the nominalism of 
Bacon, further carried out. It is the very oppo- 

* Compare the second dialogue. 


site, and is indeed intended to be the opposite, of 
all idealistic philosophy on the Platonic model. 
This converts things into ideas, whereas Berke- 
ley rightly makes his Philonous declare that he 
does not convert things into ideas, but ideas into 
things.* With Berkeley, things axe always sen- 
sible things ; and these are sensible impressions or 
perceptions. Sometimes he says, in direct words, 
ideas or sensible impressions. Philonous thus 
instructs his materialistic friend : " I see this 
cherry, I feel it, I taste it ; and I am sure nothing 
cannot be seen, or felt, or tasted ; it is, therefore, 
real. Take away the sensations of softness, mois- 
ture, redness, tartness, and you take away the 
cherry. Since it is not a being distinct from sen- 
sation, a cherry, I say, is nothing but a congeries 
of sensible impressions, or ideas perceived by 
various senses." 

But why does Berkeley call things "ideas," 
when he only apprehends them in a sensualistic 
sense ? To make it clear that things are facts in 
ourselves, not external to ourselves. 

Perceptions are only in ourselves, and only 
possible through the nature of perceiving beings. 
But what are facts after the deduction of their 
perceptible qualities ? They are nothing. There- 
fore they are and exist only in ourselves ; that is, 
* Third dialogue. 


they exist as perceptions only in the perceiving 
beings. Being perceived is, with Berkeley, the 
same as existing. As a nominalist, he says, there 
is nothing imperceptible (or general) ; as a sensu- 
alist, there is nothing perceptible without percep- 
tion, nothing sensible without the senses: and 
that no perception exists without a perceiving 
being, is manifest. Berkeley's so-called idealism 
is a consequence of his nominalistic principle ; if 
there is nothing imperceptible, there is nothing 
but what is perceptible, — that is to say, nothing 
but perceptible objects and perceiving subjects. 
The former are ideas ; the latter are minds : hence 
the proposition, there are only " ideas " and minds. 
In the natural validity of human knowledge, for 
all practical purposes, no alteration is occasioned 
by this theory. Berkeley can perfectly accom- 
modate himself to the ordinary view of things, 
which he even confirms. Only, what are called 
things in ordinary language, he calls " ideas," or 
things in us, which, as such, are as real and stand 
on as secure a basis as they do in the opinion of 
the unthinking, who fancy that nature is external 
to ourselves. 


We do not perceive things themselves, but only 
their copies in our minds ; we only perceive our 


own impressions. This is a proposition that has 
not first to be proved by Berkeley, as it is already 
admitted by every one. But most persons be- 
lieve that the real things stand behind their im- 
pressions, and are, as it were, the originals that 
are copied and reflected in our senses. This 
opinion — this belief in things, the originals of the 
copies, external to ourselves — is what Berkeley 
seeks to destroy. The supposed copies of the 
things are sensuous impressions — our own per- 
ceptions. Now, let these impressions or percep- 
tions of ours be abstracted from anything, and 
what remains? Nothing. What, then, is the 
supposed thing, the original of the copy ? Nothing 
again. What, then, is the supposed copy ? It is 
itself the original; our perceptions are the real 
things. Hence Berkeley says, I convert "ideas" 
(i. e. perceptions) into things. In the nature of 
things he manifestly alters nothing whatever ; he 
only corrects our view of it. What all of you, 
he would say, look upon as ijnages are the real 
things ; and what you look upon as the real 
things are — nothing. To this point alone are all 
his explanations and proofs directed. The proof 
that the supposed copies are the things, and the 
supposed originals are nothing, is very simple. 
If we abstract from the things their perceived and 
perceptible qualities — that is to say, our own im- 


pressions, — everything, without exception, be- 
comes — nothing. And yet they must remain 
what they really are, if the impressions that have 
been abstracted are only their copies. 

Our perceptions are things. This is the clearest 
and most concise formula for Berkeley's point of 
view. If they were only the copies of things, it 
would follow, as a necessary consequence, that 
our knowledge is vain and delusive — that we 
only know the outside show of things, and not 
the things themselves. The faith in things with- 
out us, the originals of our impressions, logically 
leads to scepticism. Hence Berkeley thinks that 
he has destroyed the very basis of scepticism. 
His dialogues were directed against the sceptics ; 
and he did not know that within his own theory 
he was fostering the germ of a scepticism that 
was afterwards to be developed by an acute 

For ordinary refutations Berkeley is prepared; 
and he overcomes . them with dexterity. If our 
perceptions are the real things, it may be ob- 
jected that, as a necessary consequence, the sun 
really revolves round the earth, the stick is really 
broken in the water — and the like. To this 
Berkeley replies. Certainly the movement of the 
sun is a real perception, a phenomenon well 
established in the eye of an inhabitant of our 


planet. But who bids us infer from this that the 
same phenomenon will also be perceived from 
another point of view, remote from the earth? 
In this case it is not the perception that is wrong 
and without foundation, but the consequence that 
is deduced from it. 


But if our perceptions are " ideas," and these are 
the things themselves, nature seems to be resolved 
into a mere creature of the human mind, and to 
lose all its security. How, then, are we to dis- 
tinguish these " ideas " from mere ideas — things 
from fancies — the order of nature, governed by 
fixed laws, from the sport of human imagination ? 
Where is the difference between reality and 
show ? Our own fancies, which are mere " ideas," 
we ourselves make; the perceptions or things, 
which are true "ideas," we do not make; they 
are given to us as facts, they are data, of which 
neither we ourselves nor external things are the 
cause, and the cause of which can therefore be no 
other than the Deity. As the belief in external 
things leads to scepticism, so does the conviction 
that our perceptions or "ideas" are themselves 
the real things lead us to the Deity, and, conse- 
quently, to religion. Thus Berkeley thought he 


had established religion by destroying the basis 
of scepticism ; his dialogues were directed, at the 
same time, against sceptics and atheists. In a 
word, Berkeley affirms the knowledge founded 
on sensuous perception, and ultimately deduces it 
from the Deity, as he cannot deduce it from 
material beings, the existence of which he denies. 
In this respect he has a certain affinity with 
Malebranche, with whom we might compare him, 
as we might compare Locke with Descartes. 
But in the main point they are opposed to each 
other, Berkeley denying on principle what 
Malebranche maintained on principle, the ex- 
istence of matter external to the mind. This 
was the difference between the two, that precluded 
all agreement between them. It is said that a 
violent controversy with Berkeley, who visited 
Malebranche on his dying-bed, accelerated the 
death of the latter. 

We have remarked in Locke the double con- 
tradiction that he denied metaphysics or ontology 
as the doctrine of the nature of things, and yet 
(though not without hesitation) pronounced certain 
decisions respecting the substance of the soul, of 
the body, and of the Deity ; that, on the one hand, 
he doubted the existence of the human mind, 
and, on the other hand, maintained the existence 
of the Deity, which he proved from the fact of 


the human mind. Thus in Locke Deism and 
materialism were united in a contradictory manner, 
Berkeley avoids both these contradictions. He 
converts ontology into psychology without leav- 
ing any residue ; for he converts all things into 
sensuous perceptions. He is a decided Deist*, a 
decided opponent of materialism, which he refutes 
both on first principles and in its consequences. 
Here is the difference between Berkeley and 
Locke. The difference is not, as is commonly 
supposed, between idealist and realist ; but the 
case, rightly apprehended, stands thus : Berkeley 
is not less but more sensualistic than Locke, and, 
consequently, more of a realist. And for this 
very reason Berkeley is less materialistic than 
Locke, or, rather, he is not a materialist at all. 
He attacks materialism, he would prevent the sen- 
sualistic philosophy from committing the gross 
error of degenerating into materialism, — an error 
that began with Locke and was carried out by 

* It will be observed that Dr. rischer uses this word aa the 
opposite of Atheist, and not necessarily to denote a disbelieyer in 
revelation ; for such a character could hardly be predicated of 
Berkeley. Ambiguity might have been removed by the sub- 
stitution of the word " Theist," which in ordinary parlance is 
supposed to be without the negative sense attached to " Deist ; " 
but as some of the persons called " Deists " in the course of the 
work were so in every sense of the word, I have deemed it ex- 
pedient to avoid a distinction which Dr. Fischer has not drawn. 
—J. O. 

H H 


the French. With Berkeley sensualism takes a 
decided position as the antagonist of materialism ; 
and rightly, for if all is but sensuous perception, 
matter — such as it is asserted to be by its philo- 
sophical advocates — is nothing but an empty 
thought, a mere word, since of this matter there 
is manifestly no sensuous perception. This view 
constitutes the fundamental thought, the leading 
idea of the whole philosophy of Berkeley. It 
was natural that common sense*, which attached 
itself to Locke, followed in the train of ma- 
terialism, and declared itself against Berkeley. 
Indeed, by adhering to words, there was no 
great difficulty in perverting Berkeley's anti- 
materialistic tendency into an insane idealism, 
that could be refuted in sport. Voltaire's wit 
was here quite in its element. In his eyes Locke 
alone was a true philosopher; but he never 
thoroughly understood even Locke, or he would 
necessarily have recognised him in Berkeley. 
*' Ten thousand cannon-balls and ten thousand 
dead men," says Voltaire, " are ten thousand 
ideas according to the philosophy of Berkeley ;" f 
and this he thinks is a refutation, as if Berkeley 
had not known and already answered such objec- 

* Der gewbhnliche Verstand ; literally, the " ordinary nnder- 
Btanding." — J. O. 

t Philosophical Dictionary, article " Corps." 


tions. Voltaire should tell us what is not per- 
ceptible in a single cannon-ball ; then he will 
have confuted Berkeley. We will dispense with 
the ten thousand. 

If we would arrive at the sum total of Berkeley's 
philosophy, it is deduced from the proposition 
that sensuous perceptions are things, which pro- 
position is itself no more than the conclusion and 
final result of sensualism. If perceptions are 
things, it follows that all human knowledge is, in 
truth, empirical self-knowledge, that in all cases 
we only experience our own given state, and that 
thus all experience can merely be self-experience. 
Berkeley has done more than establish this fact. 
If knowledge altogether is no more than ex- 
perience, as Bacon has said, if all experience is no 
more than sensuous perception, as Locke has 
said, we must then conclude, with Berkeley, that 
we know nothing but our own impressions, that 
our impressions are the things themselves, and 
that, therefore, the knowledge of things, if we 
rightly investigate the matter, is no more than a 
knowledge of ourselves, or, more strictly speaking, 
experience of ourselves. Given facts constitute 
all that we know. Our knowledge is therefore 
experience ; and Kant very correctly decided that 
Berkeley's " idealism " was of an empirical kind, 
and that Garve understood neither this philosophy 
H a 2 


nor the Kantian, as he could not comprehend the 
difference between the two. The facts that we 
experience are our own perceptions, but not our 
creations ; they are the work of the Deity, and 
therefore amount, in truth, to a miracle. Thus 
human experience, after the loss of external 
things, becomes an incomprehensible fact, like 
life, in the sense of the " Occasionalists." If 
philosophy will not stop for ever at this point, it 
must doubt the miracle, and thus destroy the 
security of human knowledge on its last founda- 

V. The Scepticism of Hume. 

Hume deduces the negative sum total of the 
English philosophy as it has existed from the 
time of Bacon. He preserves every result of his 
predecessors; only he will not, like Berkeley, make 
good the last deficit of philosophy by means of 
religion, but sets it down to the account of the 
human faculty of knowledge. Hume is con- 
vinced, with Bacon, that all knowledge must be 
experience ; with Locke, that all experience con- 
sists of sensuous perceptions ; with Berkeley, that 
sensuous perceptions are the sole objects of our 
knowledge. Therefore, concludes Hume, all 
human knowledge consists simply in this, that 


we perceive certain impressions in ourselves. 
Where, then, is its objectivity ? where its neces- 
sity? And if human knowledge is deficient in 
these two characteristics, where is this know- 
ledge itself? 


All our representations, according to Hume, are 
either sensuous impressions or the copies that these 
have left. They are only distinguished in degree, 
accordingly as they are stronger or weaker, more or 
less lively. The liveliest are the impressions them- 
selves ; the weaker are the thoughts or " ideas." 
The impressions are the originals, from which the 
" ideas," without exception, are deduced. There 
is no " idea " that did not originate from an im- 
pression ; this decides Hume as a genuine philo- 
sopher of the stamp of Locke. Consequently 
the " idea " is related to the impression, as the 
copy to the original. Hence the explanation of 
an " idea " consists in showing the impression of 
which this " idea " is a copy, and which is con- 
sequently the original of the " idea." Our im- 
pressions are the originals of all our representa- 
tions ; thus decides Hume as one who has turned 
Berkeley's investigations to his own advantage. 
Whether our impressions have external things for 

H H 3 


their own originals, is a question with which 
Hume is but little concerned; for, supposing 
there are such originals, a knowledge of them 
would only be possible if clear representations 
— that is, clear impressions — of them existed in 
ourselves. But how can we know this? "We 
can only know it by means of an impression, and 
there is none that decides on the clearness of 
an impression, or the relation between an im- 
pression and a thing. In every case, therefore, 
human nature lacks the criterium which alone 
secures the objectivity of our " ideas." 

If, therefore, there is any knowledge, its objects 
are only "ideas," which themselves are nothing 
but copies of impressions ; thus we only compre- 
hend our impressions, not the objective nature of 
things. In this sense, there is no objective know- 
ledge. Thus is scepticism already half-expressed. 
It follows, as a matter of course, that there is 
no knowledge of the super-sensual. The super- 
sensual makes no impression upon us ; therefore we 
have no knowledge of it. In this sense all meta- 
physics is an impossible science.* 


It is thus established that we know nothing but 
our own ideas, which are based upon impressions. 

* Compare "Enquiry concerning the Human Understand- 
ing," i. and ii. 


But our own "ideas" only constitute knowledge 
when we connect them, and perceive their agree- 
ment or disagreement with each other. All know- 
ledge is a necessary connection of " ideas." Now, 
what is necessary ? That which must be as it is ; 
that of which the contrary is impossible ; that 
which cannot be contradicted. The " proposition 
of identity " which declares that a thing is what it 
is, and according to which all the attributes (Merk- 
male) that it has, and the attributes of these attri- 
butes, belong to it — this proposition cannot be 
contradicted. Therefore those " ideas" are neces- 
sarily connected, of which one is contained in the 
other, or can be deduced yVoTw the other. There- 
fore every judgment is necessary which, like the 
" proposition of identity," is founded on the mere 
analysis of an " idea ; " every connection of " ideas " 
is necessary that is attained by mere syllogistic 
deduction (Schlussfolgerung). Such are the 
judgments and conclusions of mathematics. The 
judgments of mathematics are analytical*; their 
conclusions are syllogistic ; the knowledge belong- 
ing to them is demonstrative, f 

On the contrary, experience judges otherwise 
than mathematics with respect to nature and 

* This, it is scarcely necessary to state, is given as the opinion 
of Hume, Kant has proved that mathematical judgments are 
not analytical, but synthetical. — J. O. 

f Enquiry concerning the Human Understanding, iv. 
H H 4 


history. It combines different facts, different 
" ideas," of which one is not contained in the 
other ; of which, therefore, one cannot be deduced 
from the other by analysis, but is added to it 
by synthesis. Is there, then, a necessary syn- 
thesis in experience ? Our " ideas," according to 
Hume, are combined or associated in three ways, — 
by similarity, by contiguity (or a connection in 
time and space), and lastly by causality, or the 
connection of cause and effect.* 

Of these three means of combination, causality 
alone lays claim to the character of necessity ; for 
it is obvious that " ideas" which are only similar, 
or contiguous with regard to space or time, are 
not necessarily connected so that one must neces- 
sarily follow from the other. The only question 
that arises is, whether causality is a necessary 
connection. To this question the whole force of 
Hume's investigation is directed. So much is 
established, that all judgments expressive of 
knowledge are either analytical or synthetical. 
The pure judgments of the reason f and mathe- 
matical judgments are analytical ; the judgments 
of experience are synthetical, and their synthesis 
consists in causality. Now, is this synthesis 
necessary ? 

* Enquiry concerning the Human Understanding, iii. 

t Such as the propositions of identity and contradiction. — J, O. 



The causal connection of "ideas" is necessary, 
if it is not susceptible of contradiction. It is not 
susceptible of contradiction, if, by the mere 
analysis of the " idea" A, we discover that A is 
the cause or power that affects B. But, however 
thoroughly we may analyse A, we shall never find 
in it either B itself, or the power which A exer- 
cises upon B. B is not contained in A ; the effect 
is not contained in the cause ; the power of A is 
not contained in the "idea" of A. Thus the 
effect can never be deduced from the cause, or — 
in other words — the causal connection of different 
"ideas" is not discovered by mere logical deduc- 
tion ; consequently, not by pure reason. Let us 
take, for instance, the " idea" of fire. The mere 
analysis of this " idea" will never explain to me 
the effect of fire upon wood, will never show 
me the power and influence of fire upon other 
things. If I take the " idea" of a ball, I cannot, 
by any process of logical deduction from this 
" idea," discover what motion the ball will com- 
municate to another ball, with which it comes 
into collision. And so it is in every case. Thus 
the relation between cause and effect is not unsus- 
ceptible of contradiction; for it is not a relation of 


identity. Hence causality is no conception of the 
reason, or — what is the same thing — is not a 
priori. There is no syllogistic deduction that 
will lead us from the cause A to the effect B; for 
syllogisms are impossible -without a middle term. 
Where is the middle term between cause and 
effect? Where is the middle term between an 
experience and a similar experience ? * 

Nevertheless we require the causal connection 
in all our empirical judgments. From causes we 
constantly infer effects; from similar causes, 
similar effects. On the idea of causality is based 
all the knowledge we derive from experience. 
Now, upon what is this idea based ? As it is 
not a priori, it must be based upon a datum a 
posteriori. But upon what datum ? All " ideas," 
without exception, are based upon sensuous im- 
pressions, of which they are the copies. There 
is no "idea," the original of which was not an 
impression. What, then, is the impression of 
which the idea of causality is a copy ? This 
question touches the focus of Hume's problem. 

Every impression is a fact that we perceive. 
But the connection between facts we do not per- 
ceive. We see lightning, and we hear thunder, 
but not the influence that connects them, not 
the power by which the first phenomenon pro- 

* Enquiry coacerning the Human Understanding, iv. 


duces the second. We experience the effect, but 
not the efficiency, the cause, the power. "We 
now feel a disposition to a certain " idea ;" then 
this "idea" arises in our minds; then follows a 
movement of our bodies. But the power itself 
by which the will produces the "idea" in the 
mind, and motion in the body, remains concealed 
from us. Of this power there is no impression, 
and therefore no "idea." Thus there is no im- 
pression the copy of which could be the idea of 
causality. This is the great difficulty discovered 
by Hume — the difficulty which renders the idea 
of causality dubious. Every "idea" requires an 
impression, to which it may be referred as a copy 
to an original. But there is no impression, either 
internal or external, of which we could say, 
" Look, this is the original of the idea of cause — 
of causality!" Thus this idea, on which all our 
empirical knowledge depends, becomes a veritable 
riddle. It cannot be found by mere reason ; 
neither, it seems, can it be found by means of an 
impression. It is not a priori ; neither, it seems, 
is it a posteriori. Whence then does it come ? 

Herein consists the dilemma. We must either 
give up as impossible, and regard as incompre- 
hensible, the whole of our empirical knowledge 
together with causality, or we must deduce this 
idea from an impression. But this impression is 


nowhere given. If, therefore, there is any such 
impression at all, it must arise gradually, — must 
he formed from the impressions that are given. 
How is this possible ? 


Granted that the impression A is followed by 
the impression B, we find that in this single in- 
stance of succession two facts are associated. They 
are associated, but not (necessarily) connected. 
They would be so connected if B were attached 
to A in such a manner that it would follow from 
A as a necessary consequence. Now, no one can 
arrive at the conclusion, that what has happened 
once will happen always. But suppose the same 
succession is repeated, that the impression A, as 
often as we receive it, is followed by B, then the 
transient association becomes a permanent associa- 
tion. Through this permanent association which 
we experience in our impressions, we gradually 
become accustomed to pass from the impression A 
to the impression B, so that when the former 
takes place, we expect the other ; that is to say, 
we expect that B will follow A, because it has 
always followed it to the present moment. From 
the transition from one " idea " to the other arises, 
by a continual repetition of the same succession, 
an habitual transition. What has appeared merely 


associated in a single case, appears necessarily 
connected when it is found in many similar cases ; 
but this is merely because we have grown accus- 
tomed to the association.* This habit, like all 
habits, consists merely in an often-repeated ex- 
perience. We have so often observed one impres- 
sion or fact succeed another, that our imagination 
is involuntarily determined, when we receive one 
impression, to expect the other — is compelled to 
pass from A to B. I find myself involuntarily 
determined ; that is to say, I feel : every habit is 
based upon a feeling. This feeling is likewise an 
impression, — not one that is immediately given, 
but one that is gradually produced ; and this im- 
pression, this feeling, is the original, of which the 
idea of causality is the copy. By dint of this 
feeling I can indeed never know or demonstrate 
the connection between two facts ; but I believe in 
the connection, — -I expect, by an involuntary feel- 
ing, by a sort of instinct, that if one fact occurs, 
the other will not be wanting, — I believe that one 
is a consequence of the other. This faith is not 
evident and demonstrative, like a deduction of the 
reason; but it leads to the conclusions of our expe- 
rience, and forms the ground of all empirical cer- 
tainty, f 

* Enquiry concerning the Human Understanding, vii. 2. 
■f Ibid. T. Compare vii. 2. 


Thus does Hume solve his problem. All hu- 
man knowledge is either demonstrative (as in the 
case of mathematics) or empirical. All empirical 
knowledge consists in the causal connection of 
facts. The idea of causality is founded on a be- 
lief, this belief upon a feeling, this feeling upon a 
habit, which itself consists in nothing else than 
an often-repeated experience. Consequently, 
there is no knowledge that is objective and neces- 
sary. None that is objective, for the objects of our 
knowledge are merely our impressions and the 
"ideas" copied from them; none that are necessary, 
for the ground of our knowledge is not an axiom, 
but — an exercise of faith. Here is a perfect ex^ 
pression of scepticism. The doubt respecting 
knowledge arises from the perception that all the 
inferences of our experience are nothing but 
matters of faith ; it is upon this faith that the 
doubt is founded. Hume himself calls his theory 
" moderate scepticism," because he does not design 
to alter anything in human knowledge (so far as 
it is experience), but merely to enlighten our 
views respecting it.* He will only show us the 
guide that we are practically to follow throughout 
the whole of our knowledge. Hume is well aware 
that " nature is stronger than doubt," that man- 
kind will never cease to seek experiences, to draw 

* Enquiry concerning the Human Understanding, xii. 3. 


inferences from them, and to regard these infe- 
rences as stable truths by which they can regulate 
their actions, however acutely the sceptic may show 
that they are without foundation.* He would 
neither lessen nor depreciate the genuine treasure 
of human knowledge, but merely instruct us as 
to the means by which the treasure was acquired, 
and can also be really increased. He enlightens 
us as to the true ground of our knowledge. His 
scepticism destroys nothing but a supposed ground, 
an imaginary faculty, that can never lead us 
to fruitful and practical knowledge, but only to 
apparent truths and fallacious " ideas." 

These are the limits set to human knowledge 
by the scepticism of Hume. Beyond experience 
there is no knowledge whatever ; and even within 
the region of experience our knowledge extends 
only so far as custom. "Within the region of habit 
there is no final or perfect certainty, but a mere 
proximate subjective certainty — or probability. 
Habit does not prove; it only believes. That 
which is beyond habit is still possible; that to 
which we are accustomed is not proved — is not 
so necessary that its opposite is impossible. t 

" Custom," says Hume, " is the great guide of 
human life." J Hence, from his point of view, he 

* Enquiry concerning the Human tTnderstanding, xii. 2. 
t Ibid. Ti. t Ibid. v. 1. 


could rightly assert that he was opposed not to the 
conclusions of " common sense " (das gewohnliche 
Bewusstseyn), but rather, on the contrary, con- 
firmed its decrees by the most immediate formula. 
For what does common sense desire more than to 
think and act according to custom ? And so far is 
Hume from depriving it of the power to do this, 
that his scepticism leaves nothing but custom as 
the basis of human thought and action. Man has 
always been regulated by custom. Hume vindi- 
cates the power of custom, shows in what its right 
consists, proving that men have not only a right 
to think according to custom, but that, in fact, 
this is their only right. What Schiller makes 
Wallenstein say with heroic contempt, exactly 
expresses the sober conviction of Hume : — 

" What we have most to dread 
Is common-place, perpetual yesterday, 
That ever warning, ever still returns ; 
Potent to-movrow, through its force to-day. 
For man of common-places is compact, 
And to his nurse the name of custom gives." * 

This nurse is called by Hume the great guide 
of human life ; and with him it forms at the same 
time the defined boundary of human knowledge. 

If there is no knowledge beyond experience, 
there is, at the same time, no theology but 

* Death of Wallenstein, i. 4. 

Hume's view of berkelet. 481 

that which is based upon supernatural revelation. 
Hume is of the same opinion with Bacon and 
Bayle, that religious faith and human reason are 
reciprocally exclusive. There is, therefore, no 
rational or demonstrative science whatever, except 
mathematics. All the rest of human knowledge 


is experience, of which custom is the only guide. 
"When," says Hume, at the conclusion of his 
Enquiry, " we use our libraries, persuaded of these 
principles, what havoc must we make ! If we 
take in our hand any volume of divinity or school 
metaphysics, for instance, let us ask, Does it 
contain any abstract reasoning concerning quan- 
tity or number ? No. Does it contain any 
experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact 
and existence? No. Commit it, then, to the 
flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry 
and illusion." * 

If we compare Hume with Berkeley, we must 
say that he owes half his scepticism to the latter ; 
namely, so much as affirms that human knowledge 
does not extend beyond our impressions, that of 
this knowledge "ideas" are the only possible 
objects. Hence he says, in a note to his 
Enquiry, " Most of the writings of that very 
ingenious author (Berkeley) form the best lessons 
of scepticism, which are to be found either among 

• Enquiry, xii. 3. 
I I 


the ancient or modern philosophers, Bayle not 
excepted"* But Berkeley declared that orderly 
experience was a product of the Deity, whereas 
Hume regards it as a product of human custom. 
At this point his scepticism is perfected and 
formulised. It destroys nothing but the illusion 
which regards that which is only regulated by 
custom as regulated by fixed laws. To customs 
there are exceptions ; to laws there are none. 
There are many things extra-ordinary, none 

If we compare Hume with Locke, we must say 
that his view of the origin of our " ideas " is 
equally sensualistic, and similarly negative as to 
the possibility of metaphysics. Their coincidence 
is in the idea of substance, which they both assert 
to be a mere void ; their difference is in the idea 
of causality, to which Locke gives a real, Hume 
merely a subjectively human value. 

If we compare Hume with Bacon, we must 
say that he critically established the limits of 
experience, which the action-loving intellect of 
Bacon himself had overstepped. And what par- 
ticularises Hume is the distinction that he makes 
between experience and mathematics as different 
kinds of human knowledge, f The objects of 

• Enquiry, xii. 2. 

t Kant agrees to this distinction, but he changes the criterium. 


mathematics are magnitudes, those of experience 
are facts; the mathematics judge solely by 
analysis, experience solely by synthesis. Hence 
there is demonstrative certainty in mathematics, 
whereas experience merely attains probability or 
moral certainty ; for in the one case conclusions 
are drawn by reason, in the latter they are the 
result of faith in habitual association. 


From the reasons stated above, Hume was 
necessarily a sceptic in philosophy ; for a know- 
ledge based merely upon custom can only have 
temporary, and cannot arrive at absolutely valid 
truth. But, with Hume, custom is not merely 
the ground upon which our empirical knowledge 
is to be explained, but also the " guide of human 
life." So far as life is ruled by custom, it comes 
within the scope of Hume's point of view. In 
philosophy principles govern; in life, custom. 
Our whole life is, as Gothe's Egmont says, the 
"sweet habit of existence." Even the natural 
movements of the body must become habitual by 
repeated practice, in order to be involuntary and 

According to him, the judgments of mathematical science and 
experience are both synthetical, but the former judges accord- 
ing to intuition, the latter according to logical conception 

Author's note. 

I I 2 


free from effort. Thus healthy eating and drink- 
ing, walking and standing, under the guidance of 
natural instincts, become habitual functions by 
repeated practice ; thus also is it with reading and 
writing, under the guidance of education. We 
must first accustom ourselves simply to live ; then 
we must accustom ourselves to live in a particular 
manner. Our life and our cultivation are results 
of our habits; and these are the results of oft- 
repeated experience. Custom alone produces our 
morals; and these produce the common public life 
of man, and its constitution. An alteration of 
constitution is an alteration of morals and cus- 
toms. But customs arise gradually, and there- 
fore must be gradually altered. If custom is 
slowly progressive, so likewise must be the disuse 
of custom. Here nothing arises suddenly by a 
mere resolution of the will, a decree, an arbitrary 
asrreement. Human customs and morals in their 
slow, gradual metamorphosis, — these are the 
historical processes of cultivation. He who does 
not understand the nature of customs and of 
morals habitually acquired, he who does not take 
into account this power in human life, is incapable 
of understanding history, much more of making 
it. He does not understand mankind, much less 
will he be able to govern it. Every sudden " en- 
lightenment," every sudden revolution in a state, 


is thoroughly repugnant to history, A faith and 
a state cannot be demolished, any more than they 
can be produced, by a single blow. We are made 
acquainted with the anti-historical view of the 
Anglo-Gallic " enlightenment." Among all the 
philosophers of this "enlightenment," David Hume 
is the only one whose views approximate to the 
nature of historical life, the only one whose 
thought is not repugnant to history, because he 
understood that human life is governed, not by 
principles and theories, but by customs. The 
same principle which made him a sceptic in phi- 
losophy, made him an historian fitted to judge of 
men and states, a circumspect politician. He 
thought historically, because he depreciated the 
value of philosophical principles. In him the 
philosophical sceptic and the political historian 
constitute one person. If we would have a pal- 
pable instance of the diflference, in this respect, 
between the great sceptic and the Anglo-Gallic 
" enlightenment," we need only compare the 
historical works of a Hume with those of a 

But the consonance of the views of Hume 
with history is most plainly apparent with respect 
to one particular point, in treating of which the 
other philosophers of his age had established a 
dogma repugnant to history. Nothing shows how 
II 3 


far the so-called " enlightenment" was removed 
from all historical experience, so much as the 
theory of a contract, by which an explanation of 
the state had been attempted. The state and 
the institutions of public life have an historical 
origin ; but such a contract as is taught by a 
Hobbes, a Locke, a Spinoza, or a Rousseau, has 
never existed in the reality, where they look for 
it. Every one can see that the contract, to be 
valid, presupposes a human community, or at 
least a form of existence similar to a state. Hume 
is the most open adversary of the contract theory, 
although he also would explain the state on natural 
grounds. He attacks the social contract theory, 
as propounded by Rousseau and Locke.* He 
sees that such a theory is opposed to all historical 
experience and possibility, and is, in fact, no more 
than a creation of the philosophical brain. Before 
men could have been united by an express con- 
tract, they must have been already united by 
necessity. It was a result of necessity, without 
any contract, that one commanded and the rest 
obeyed. "Each exercise of authority in the 
chieftain," says Hume, "must have been parti- 
cular, and called forth by the present exigencies 
of the case. The sensible utility resulting from 

* Compare "Hume's nnd Kousseau's Abhandlungen iiber 
den Urvertrag," by G. Mertal. (Leipzig, 1797.) 


his interposition, made those exertions become daily 
more frequent ; and this frequency gradually pro- 
duced an habitual, and, if you please to call it so, 
an arbitrary and therefore precarious acquiescence 
in the people."* In the place of a contract, 
Hume puts custom. He gives precisely the 
same explanation of the state as of knowledge, 
basing the former upon habitual obedience, as he 
has based the latter upon habitual experience. 
Custom attaches men to the form of state to 
which they have become accustomed, and secures 
its duration against any violent attack. The 
continuation of Wallen stein's speech is uttered in 
the very spirit of Hume : 

" Woe to the impious hand that dares to touch 
The dear old stock his fathers have bequeath'd ! 
There is a sanctifying power in years; 
What age has render'd grey, appears divine. 
Be in possession, then the right's thine own, 
And will be honor'd by the multitude." 

A principle repugnant to history led to conse- 
quences equally repugnant. If the state was the 
product of a mere arbitrary act of the human 
will, an arbitrary will would have a right to anni- 
hilate it at a single blow. The contract theory 
led to a revolutionary theory. If it was once 
established that the state had arisen from a tabula 

' Essay, " Of the Original Contract."— J. 0. 
II 4 


rasa by means of a contract, it seemed possible, 
and even just, to bring it back to a tabula rasa 
by means of a new contract. If one contract pro- 
duced civil order, another produced civil revolu- 
tion. The contract theory of a Hobbes became 
a revolutionary theory in the mind of a Kousseau. 
The anti- historical mode of thought was followed 
by an anti-historical mode of action. The moment 
arrived when the given state was actually reduced 
to a tabula rasa ; the French Kevolution came to 
an incurable rupture with history; the Contrat 
Social became the gospel of the Convention ; the 
theoretical Rousseau was followed by the prac- 
tical Robespierre, in whom the anti-historical 
mode of action became not only barbarous, but 
even grotesque. 

Hume attacks the revolutionary theory, to- 
gether with the contract theory, on natural- 
historical grounds. Here his arguments against 
Rousseau are most felicitous: "Would these 
reasoners but descend into the world, they would 
meet with nothing that in the least corresponds 
to their ideas. ... In reality, there is not a 
more terrible event than a total dissolution of 
government, which gives liberty to the multitude, 
and makes the determination or choice of a new 
establishment depend upon a number, which 
nearly approaches to that of the body of the 


people ; for It never comes entirely to the whole 
body of them. Every wise man then wishes to 
see at the head of a powerful and obedient army 
a general who may speedily seize the prize, and 
give to the people a master, which they are so 
unfit to choose for themselves. So little corre- 
spondent is fact and reality to these philosophical 
notions."* If the revolution really became a 
fact, and converted a Kousseau into a Robes- 
pierre, Hume foresaw what he would desire — 
namely, a Napoleon. If we compare Hume with 
Kousseau, how striking is the contrast, in spite of 
many points of resemblance ! They both stand 
on the very threshold of the French revolution ; 
they are both in of)position to the dogmatic philo- 
sophy of their age and their nations, they both 
seek to reduce human knowledge to a natural 
faith, and to purify it in conformity with nature. 
This common opposition to the same adversary 
brought them together. They became friends; 
and Hume afforded the persecuted Rousseau a 
hospitable asylum in England. A difference 
afterwards arose; and they became enemies, less 
from any fault in Hume than from Rousseau's 
unhappy suspicious mind, which had grown into a 
fixed temperament. They were opposed to each 
other, one being a sceptic, the other a visionary 

* " Of the Original Contract." 


Utopian. Rousseau desired an ideal state, which 
Hume sneered at as a man of the world, and 
attacked as a politician. Rousseau advanced a 
revolutionary theory, which Hume opposed with 
every argument and every feeling. Where are 
their spirits to be found in the time of the actual 
revolution, which neither lived to see? They 
could not be separated by a wider chasm. Ro- 
bespierre studied Rousseau's Contrat Social; 
and Louis XVI. read Hume's " History of the 

Political theorists do not take into considera- 
tion the historical conditions with which we are 
interwoven, and from which none of us can or 
should — least of all in practice — fully abstract 
himself. We have a sort of historical pre-exist- 
ence in our forefathers. As Socrates excellently 
says, he is obliged to obey the laws of his country ; 
for he has already pre-existed in his ancestors as 
a citizen of Athens. The empirical philosophers, 
who, least of all, should have straitened historical 
experience, are most in opposition to it. The tabula 
rasa of which they speak, exists neither within 
ourselves, nor externally to ourselves. In their 
theories of the state, they presuppose men who 
find themselves in a position to make a state for 
the first time, and come directly out of the hand of 
nature as a fresh generation. This hypothesis is 


false. Those men never existed ; if they ever 
did, there would be no history. The philosophers 
who maintain the contract theory, abstract from 
history; this is their pervading fault, which is 
well understood by Hume. He excellently says, 
" Did one generation of men go off the stage at 
once, and another succeed — as is the case with 
silkworms and butterflies, — the new race, if they 
had sense enough to choose their government, 
which surely is never the case with men, might 
voluntarily and by general consent establish their 
own form of civil polity, without any regard to 
the laws or precedents which prevailed among 
their ancestors. But as human society is in per- 
petual flux, one man every hour going out of the 
world, another coming into it, it is necessary, in 
order to preserve stability in government, that 
the new brood should conform themselves to the 
established constitution, and nearly follow the 
path which their fathers, treading in the foot- 
steps of theirs, had marked out to them. Some 
innovations must necessarily have place in every 
human institution; and it is happy when the 
enlightened genius of the age gives them a direc- 
tion to the side of reason, liberty, and justice. 
But violent innovations no individual is entitled 
to make. They are even dangerous to be at- 
tempted by the legislature. More ill than good 


is to be expected from them."* Hume is no 
enemy of " enlightenment" in itself ; he is only an 
enemy of that ordinary anti-historical enlighten- 
ment that must necessarily be of an artificial kind, 
and which, far from educating men, treats them as 
plants in a hot-house. This non-educational and 
anti-historical " enlightenment," which has been 
called not inaptly "spurious enlightenment,"! is 
attacked by Hume from a far higher and more 
enlightened point of view, which approaches his- 
torical thoug;ht. For the same reason our Less- 
ing attacked the anti-historical " enlightenment." 
On this point he would have nothing in com- 
mon with the Wolfians, and took no interest in 
the experiments of Joseph II., which he saw 
were premature. This is the " Something that 
Lessing said,"| which Jacobi willingly heard. 

* Essay, " Of the Original Contract." 

f " Auf klarerei." This modification of the word "Aufklarung" 
gives it a contemptuous turn ; but "Aufklarung" itself is used 
with scarcely less contempt by writers opposed to the philosophy 
of the eighteenth century. — J. O. 

I " Etwas, das Lessing sagte," is the title of a treatise by Jaoobl 
commencing with these words : — " I once heard Lessing say, that 
all that had been maintained by Febronius, and the partisans of 
Febronius, would be a mere unblushing flattering of princes ; for 
all their arguments against the rights of the pope would be 
either no arguments at all, or they would tell with double or triple 
force against the princes themselves." On these words the 
treatise is based. Justinus Febronius is the pseudonym of 
Johann Nicolaus von Hontheim, whose work on the State of the 


While English philosophy, in the person of 
Hume, perceives that the " enlightenment" be- 
longing to it leaves history out of consideration, 
and therefore fails, the same view is taken by 
German philosophy in the person of Lessing, 
after it has gone through a certain period of 
anti-historical thought, most inconsistent with its 
original foundation. While English philosophy, 
in the person of Hume, arrives at the conclusion 
that the ground of all our knowledge is faith and 
feeling, and turns this conclusion to the advan- 
tage of scepticism, the same result is arrived at 
by Hamann, Herder, and with the greatest clear- 
ness by Jacobi, and turned to the advantage of 
religion. The English sceptic agrees in one point 
with these German genius-thinkers*, — they are 
all philosophers of faith; or we should rather 
say that Hamann, Herder, and Jacobi, as philo- 
sophers of faith, agreed with Hume. It was 
they who revered the sceptic, in the cause of re- 
ligion ; they joined with him against the dogmatic 
philosophy, against the anti-historical " enlighten- 
ment," against an insipid and impracticable ration- 
alism. Here the English and German philoso- 

Church, and the Lawful Authority of the Pope, published in 1 763, 
made a considerable sensation throughout Europe. — J. O. 

* " Genie-denker.'' This expression, I conceive, is intended 
to denote those thinkers whose thoughts are not expressed in a 
formal system. At all events, this interpretation will lit Hamann, 
Herder, and Jacobi. — J. O. 


phers shake hands with each other, that they 
may both in common bring this dogmatic period 
to a conclusion, and prepare a new epoch. 

VI. Hume's Conteadiction, and Kant's Solution." 

If we state the sum total of Hume's philosophy, 
we find that he has denied metaphysics, distin- 
guished mathematics from experience (as analy- 
tical from synthetical knowledge), and so ex- 
plained the latter that its judgments must, without 
exception, cease to be accepted as universal and 
necessary. But how did Hume explain ex- 
perience? By the idea of causality, which con- 
nects our impressions. And how did he explain 
this idea? By custom. And how this? By 
oft-repeated experience. Thus Hume explains 
experience by — experience. He presupposes 
what he has to explain ; he therefore thinks dog- 
matically, and commits the very fault which the 
sceptics of antiquity had remarked in the dog- 
matic philosophers; his explanations are in an 

* My intention here is only to show the point where the English 
philosophy results in the Kantian. The dependent position of 
Kant, with respect to the English philosophy, before he went 
beyond the latter, I shall not investigate here. Such an investi- 
gation would be foreign to my theme, and belongs to an account 
of the Kantian philosophy, to which I am devoting an especial 
work. — Author's Note. 


obvious circle, exactly corresponding to the figure 
which the ancient sceptics called " BidWtjXos." 
A circle explains nothing. Hume thus far has 
not explained experience ; he has not solved the 
problem, but only made it clear ; but, at the same 
time, he has made it so very clear, has defined it 
so sharply, that it could not be avoided by any 
independent thinker who might follow him. Nay, 
it could not but occur to the philosophical mind 
that two points were made obvious : one, the 
necessity of solving the problem ; the other, the 
impossibility of Hume's solution, Hume has 
plainly shown the next goal that philosophy must 
pursue, and also, by his own example, the road 
that will not lead to it. He, who understood the 
problem, had necessarily to find a new road to its 
solution. This road must manifestly be different 
from those which had been taken by the English 
philosophy since the time of Bacon, and by the 
German since Leibnitz. Whoever finds the right 
starting-point for this goal, makes a new epoch 
in the history of philosophy. The goal is per- 
ceived, the starting-point is found, the epoch 
is made, by a German philosopher trained in the 
Leibnitz- Wolfian school, — one in whom the Ger- 
man mind is combined with the English. This 
philosopher is Immanuel Kant. His work is an 
offspring of the German and English philosophies. 


which In the mind of Kant came into fruitful 
contact. It is remarkable enough that in the very 
origin of this man the two nationalities were united. 
His family had emigrated from Scotland; and 
thus, through his forefathers, he was a countryman 
of Hume, whose investigations he understood and 
appropriated to himself, more than those of any 
other philosopher. By these investigations he 
saw the problem at which philosophy had arrived ; 
and at the same time he perceived that by 
Hume's process nothing was explained. Ex- 
perience, which Bacon had made the instrument 
of philosophy, had now become its problematic 
object. Hume, instead of explaining it, had pre- 
supposed it, had made experience itself the ground 
on which experience was to be explained. At 
this point he had remained dogmatical, like all 
the rest of the philosophers. Locke intended to 
be a sensualist; his defect was, that he was not 
sensualistic enough ; and this was discovered by 
Berkeley. Hume intended to be a sceptic; his 
fault was that he was not sceptical enough ; this 
was discovered by Kant. If Hume had been 
more sceptical, he would have explained experience 
without presupposing it, he would at this decisive 
juncture have divided and freed himself from the 
dogmatical philosophy ; in a word, he would have 
been critical. 


VII. Bacon and Kant. 

Kant was more sceptical than Hume ; he dis- 
covered the critical point of view, and thus 
brought about the crisis that led to a new epoch 
in the history of philosophy. The process was 
really very simple. He took exactly the same 
position with regard to experience and human 
knowledge that had been taken by Bacon with 
respect to nature. He explained the facts of 
experience as Bacon had attempted to explain the 
facts of nature. To explain a fact is to show, 
under all circumstances, the conditions under 
which it occurs. These conditions must, under 
all circumstances, precede the fact, and must be 
sought before the fact itself. Kant sought the 
conditions of an empirical knowledge, not above 
it, like the German metaphysicians, nor in it, like 
the English sensualists, but before it ; he neither 
with the one party presupposed knowledge in 
innate ideas, nor with the other presupposed 
experience in mental impressions and their re- 
peated connection. He analysed the fact of ex- 
perience, as Bacon analysed natural phenomena. 
As Bacon had sought the power of nature by 
which things are effected and formed, so did 
Kant seek the powers or faculties of knowledge, 

K K 


whicli constitute experience. The conditions 
■which, as necessary functions, precede experiencCj 
he called " transcendental," and by this word 
designated both his philosophy and the faculty 
which he was compelled to assume as prior to all 
knowledge, or which he discovered to be prior to 
all knowledge in man. Thus that which Kant 
supposed to be prior to knowledge is not itself 
knowledge, but consists of the knowledge-forming 
faculties, that in themselves are empty. These 
pure faculties are called by Kant the "pure 
reason." This is no tabula rasa, like the human 
mind according to Locke, nor is it an aggregate 
of " innate ideas," like those from which Leibnitz 
and Wolf sought to deduce knowledge; but it 
consists of powers that constitute man as man, — 
that essence of humanity, which no one dis- 
covered before Kant. It was a new discovery, 
the greatest that philosophy has made, and one, 
moreover, which it will neither uproot or surpass. 
Bacon sought the right road to find the neces- 
sary laws of nature, and he discovered empirical 
philosophy. Kant sought the right road to dis- 
cover the necessary laws of experience, and dis- 
covered transcendental or critical philosophy. 
Bacon asked how and by what means natural 
phenomena are possible. Kant asked how and 
by what means are physics, mathematics, and me- 


taphysics possible, and he solved his questions in 
the " Critique of Pure Reason," the " Novum 
Organum " of a new philosophy. To this work 
German philosophy, rendered fruitful by English 
philosophy, gave birth. Kant was a dogmatical 
before he became a critical philosopher; and he 
accomplished the transition from one period to 
the other under the influence of the English phi- 
losophy, especially that of Hume. Starting from 
the Leibnitz-Wolfian philosophy, and passing 
through that of Hume, he arrived at his own. 
The first person who reveiwed the " Critique of 
Pure Reason " explained Kant's philosophy as an 
Idealism after the fashion of Berkeley. Here- 
upon Kant explained his own work in his " Pro- 
legomena to all future Metaphysics," and said, in 
reply to the false comparison, that David Hume, 
rather than Berkeley, was the philosopher who, 
many years before, had awakened him out of his 
dogmatic slumber, and had given a totally new 
direction to his investigations in the field of spe- 
culative philosophy. Mindful of this tendency, 
Kant took for the motto of his " Critique of 
Pure Reason " the words of Bacon, from the pre- 
face to the " Novum Organum " — words that an- 
nounce the great fact of which the two reformers 
of philosophy are conscious. 

" Of ourselves we say nothing ; but for the 

E K 2 


matter of which we treat, we desire men not to 
regard it as an opinion, but as a necessary work, 
and to hold it for certain that we are laying the 
foundation, not of any sect or theory, but of that 
which will profit and dignify mankind. In the 
next place, we desire that they should fairly con- 
sult the common advantage, and themselves par- 
ticipate in the remaining labours. Moreover, that 
they should be strong in hope, and not pretend or 
imagine that our Instauration is an infinite work, 
surpassing human strength, since it is, in reality, 
an end and legitimate termination of infinite 
error." * 

* This is rather a condensation than an exact quotation. — J. O. 


E K 3 



(Referred to at p. &7). 

The entire passage in Spinoza's letter, which is 
the second in the collection of Epistles, is as fol- 
lows : — De Bacone parum dicam, qui de hac re 
admodum confuse loquitur et fere nihil probat: 
sed tantum narrat. Nam primo supponit, quod 
intellectus humanus praeter fallaciam sensuum sua 
sola natura fallitur, omniaque fingit ex analogia 
suse naturae et non ex analogia universi, adeo ut 
sit instar speculi inasqualis ad radios rerum, quod 
suam naturam naturae rerum immiscet, &c. Se- 
cundo, quod intellectus humanus fertur ad abs- 
tracta propter naturam propriam, atque quae 
fluxa sunt, fingit esse constantia, &c. Tertio, 
quod intellectus humanus gliscat, neque consistere 
aut acquiescere possit ; et quas adhuc alias causas 
adsignat, facile omnes ad unicam Cartesii reduci 
possunt ; scilicet, quia voluntas humana est libera 
et latior intellectu, sive, ut ipse Verulamius 
(Aph. 49) magis confuse loquitur, quia intellectus 


lutuinis sicci non est; sed reclpit infusionem a 
voluntate. (Notandum hie, quod Verulamius 
ssepe capiat intellectum pro mente, in quo a 
Cartesio differt.) Hanc ergo causam, cffiteras ut 
nuUius momenti parum curando, ostendam esse 
falsam ; quod et ipsi facile vidissent, modo atten- 
dissent ad hoc, quod scilicet voluntas differt ab 
hac et ilia volitione, eodem modo ac albedo ab hoc 
et illo albo, sive humanitas ab hoc et illo homine ; 
adeo ut aeque imposslbile sit concipere, voluntatem 
causam esse hujus ac illius volitionis, atque 
humanitatem esse causam Petri et Pauli. Cum 
igitur voluntas non sit, nisi ens rationis, et ne- 
quaquam dicenda causa hujus et illius voluntatis ; 
et particulares volitiones, quia, ut existant, egent 
causa, non possint dici libera, sed necessario sint 
tales, quales a suis causis determinantur ; et 
denique secundum Cartesium, ipsissimi errores sint 
particulares volitiones, inde necessario sequitur, 
errores, id est particulares volitiones, non esse 
llberas, sed determinari a causis externis ; et nuUo 
modo a voluntate, quod demonstrare promisi, &c." 
The complete passage in Bacon (Nov. Org. I., 
49), cited by Dr. Fischer, is as follows : — " Intel- 
lectus humanus luminis sicci non est; sed recipit 
infusionem a voluntate et affectibus, id quod ge- 
nerat ad quod vult scientias. Quod enim mavult 
homo verum esse, id potius credit. 



(Referred to at p. 125). 

Gothe's characteristic of Bacon, in the " Theory 
of Colours," is as follows : — 

" Generally we estimate the works of an emi- 
nent man by the effect they have produced on 
ourselves, either by advancing or retarding our 
cultivation. By such self-experiences do we 
pass judgment on our predecessors; and from 
this point of view may that be regarded, which 
we venture to say respecting an admirable genius, 
who appears to us at the close of the sixteenth 
and the commencement of the seventeenth century. 

" What Bacon of Verulam has bequeathed to us 
can be divided into two parts. The first is the 
historical part, which is chiefly in a disapproving 
spirit, pointing out previous deficiencies, reveal- 
ing lacuna, and finding fault with predecessors. 
The second part we would call the instructive — 
didactically dogmatic, urging to new labours, ex- 
citing, promising. 

" In both these parts there is for us something 
that is attractive and something that repels, as we 
shall now more clearly define. In the historical 
part, we are pleased with the acute insight into 
all that has gone before, and more especially by 


the great clearness with which the obstacles to 
science are brought forward. We are pleased 
also by the detection of those prejudices that gene- 
rally and particularly hinder the further progress 
of mankind. But, on the other hand, most re- 
volting to us is Bacon's insensibility to the merits 
of his predecessors, his want of reverence for 
antiquity. For how can one listen with patience 
when he compares thejwjorks of Aristotle and Plato 
to light planks, which, because they consist of 
no solid material, may have floated down to us on 
the flood of ages ? In the second part, we are 
displeased by his requisitions, which are loosely 
made, and by his method, which is not con- 
structive, complete in itself, or directed to a 
fixed point, but promotes isolation (among the 
departments of science). On the other hand, we 
are highly gratified by his encouragements, his in- 
citements, and his promises. 

" It is from the gratification he produces that 
his fame has arisen ; for who does not love to hear 
narrated the defects of former times ? who_does 
not feel confidence in him^el£? who does not 
place a hope in posterity? On the other hand, 
that which is displeasing is indeed observed by 
the more acute ; but it is treated tenderly, as in 
fairness it ought to be. 

" From these considerations we venture to explain 


how it was that Bacon should be so much talked 
about, without producing any great effectj or rather, 
when his effect had rather been injurious than use- 
ful. For, inasmuch as his method, so far as he can 
be said to have had one, is exceedingly cumber- 
some, there was no school that assembled round 
either him or his remains. Men of eminence ne- 
cessarily succeeded, who raised their age to more 
consistent views of nature, and rallied around them 
all who felt a love for comprehensive science. 

" Moreover, by referring man to experience, he 
caused them to fall — being thus left completely to 
themselves — into a boundless empiria. Thus they 
imbibed such a horror of method, that they re- 
garded disorder as the true element, in which alone 
scjpnce could thrive. We will allow ourselves to 
repeat what we have said, in the form of a simi- 

" Bacon resembles a man who clearly perceives 
the irregularity, insufficiency, and unwieldiness of 
an ancient building, and can explain these defects 
to the architects. He counsels them to abandon it, 
to relinquish without scruple the soU, the materials, 
and all the appurtenances, to look out for another 
site, and to raise a new edifice. He is an excellent 
orator, well versed in the art of persuasion : he 
shakes some of the walls ; they fall in, and a partial 
removal of the inhabitants becomes imperative. 


He points out a new site ; preparations are made ; 
but the ground is everywhere found too narrow. 
He submits new plans, but they are neither clearly 
intelligible, nor attractive. But, above all, he 
speaks of new,/and as yet unknown, materials; and 
now is the world well served. The multitude dis- 
perse in every direction ,_ and bring back with them 
infinite details; while at home, new plans, new 
spheres of activity, new settlements, occupy the 
citizens, and absorb their attention. 

" Inspite of all this, and on account of aU this, 
the works of Bacon will remain a valuable treasure 
for posterity, especially when the man no longer 
influences us immediately, but only historically; 
which will soon be possible, as we are already 
separated from him by centuries." 

The above will be found in the last edition of 
Gothe's works, vol. xxix., p. 88. For the remarks 
on Newton, Dr. Fischer refers to the same edition, 
vol. xxyiii., p. 2&3. 


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